Maegan - Senior Photos

Well greetings and salutations monday morning and fellow internet users!  

Today I would like to briefly touch on a few tips durring a shoot that might help the next person you photography lighten up and give you a bright awesome smile.

When working with couples (engagement shoots) I find it much easier to get my people relaxed because I have them talking to each other, hugging, interacting, and just having that other person there always seems to relax both people. When I am doing single portraits I find that much different. Not necessarily "harder" but different. This means I have to rely on phrases and things to help the person relax. Don't get me wrong I have tried many different phrases and while some work for certain people, others get offended and actually makes them shut down...lets just say you get better with practice ;)

To save myself from repeating some embarrassing phrases I will just summarize today's tips into three things you might want to use on your next shoot.

1. Give MANY words of affirmation (positive feedback):

This took me a long time to fully grasp and get the hang of. When I first started out in photography I would "naturally" communicate to people what they were doing wrong and what looked bad. While this "can" be helpful, I found them starting to shut down and giving me no real joy. However if you focus on the good (i.e "Oh man you look fantastic at that angle!") they start to feel more #badass and confident which is vital to any successful shoot. Most the people we photograph are not models, you have to make them feel like a model.

2. Communication:

Personally I don't think you can ever have too much of this. I try and let them know why I am positioning them the way I am, I tell them what will be happening next, I even tell them when I wont be talking to them. Otherwise I find my people asking me "so what should I be doing with my hands? Does my hair look good like this? Where should I be looking?" When this starts to happen, you will find yourself starting to loose control of the shoot. They start loosing confidence in themselves and wonder if what they are doing looks good or bad. What matters is them having confidence. This is why you need to give words of affirmation and communicate what you are trying to do. You can also try to tell jokes which I often crash and burn at. With that being said, I do find making fun of myself works the best, everyone enjoys laughing AT me.

3. Make them do active things:

What I mean by this is ask them to dance, twirl, move back and forth, etc. What ends up happening if you don't do this, they will just stand in one place and slowly but surely look like a deer in headlights. When you ask them to spin in a circle then look at the camera, you can capture way more "in the moment shots," that captures "them!" Looking up then looking at the camera is also helpful with "refreshing" their face. When people look into the camera for too long, they will start to look lifeless. Get the blood pumping by getting them active.

It also helps to get their mind off the fact there is a camera right in their face.

I am always amazed by how much people open up after we both do silly things. If I say do a "guttural laugh," you only do it after I demonstrate. "Or jump up in the air," after I show you how high.

Have a good case of the Mondays!


Peter M.


Peter Mahar - Destination Wedding Photographer - Portland OR