Some Friendly Advice - On Being Awesome

Sometime the hardest thing at the photo shoot is not taking the pictures, but getting the people to warm up and feel comfortable. Most people don't LOVE getting their picture taken like me. Most of them hate it, they do everything from freeze, tense up, go blank, get boring, or in extreme cases, start crying when the camera is pointed at them.  

There is even that fateful day when someone says "Cheese". I would know because when I first started doing photography that's what I led with...I never got far. Starting out I not only told people to cheese, but I would only let them know when they looked bad. "Stop doing that...Look happier." I was behind the camera the whole time, no small talk or conversing about the movies.


Well I am here telling you that there is hope, over time I started to realize my tactics had to change. Complement more then criticizes, this makes them warm up to you way more, even get excited about their photos...your telling them they look HOT! Who wouldn't open up? Next, never use the "C" word, that gets you nowhere. Instead I use weird phrases, words, or expressions, like "Orange out," and "give me hot eyes". After their confused face they lighten up. Joke more then being serious. If you help them relax and get them to remember this is a care free environment and getting your pictures taken is not a scary thing, then you won. Success!


Now lets hit the books and see what we have down below:

Cute right? Well this was not the first pictures I took of these guys. This was after they were warmed up to the camera.

This is more like it! These were some of the first shots. "Sara I want you to squish his face!" It sounds crazy...probably because it is, however the results are great. If you can get them to do crazy stuff like this then they open up like never before!

See? It goes from "crazy" to crazy cute! Seeing is believing so see the next two pics for proof.

Handsome and Beautiful (with a capitol B folks!).

It's a good rule of thumb never to stand straight. A simple hip to the side, or leg out add so much to a picture. However, in rare circumstances, it can work like in the left photo, only she is over exaggerated straight. So next time the camera is pointed at you...break a leg AKA bend it!

I think it's good to have variety. A lot of times I hear from my clients "I don't know what to do". And if you don't tell them they get frustrated and shut up, and you don't want that. So tell them things like look to the left, look at her, "give me chuckles." If you are the one with the camera pointed at you then remember, IT'S digital! Keep moving, dont literally "freeze", put an arm up, and give different facial expressions.

If the person is feeling an emotion, chances are they will show it. Sometimes as photographers we tell them "now don't smile" hoping we will get a cool story picture but instead they give us a blank stare. Come up with a story, or ask them to remember a specific memory. That's why it's important to get to know your people.

Again keep them moving. Having his leg up really helps add dynamic to the photo. This was the result of me getting excited and giving lots of positive feed back really fast "Your leg is great there! Yes grab his arm!" And the fact she almost fell off the tree also added to the moment ;) As the person getting their photo taken, remember to stay lose and stay moving (are we seeing a trend yet?).

The photo on  the right I had her looking at Colin. For engagement shoots it's a lot easier to get people to genuinely smile because there is someone else there they feel comfortable with. If your doing senior photos it's always a great idea to bring a friend. But never ever bring a parent. Nothing against parents, but they always seem to tense up the child and it makes it harder to get them to open up.

I sadly don't have much to say for this one, except my idea of him holding a stick did not work too well. Trial and error I guess :)

Another simple tip, yet a big one that is over looked, is being mindful. Sometimes we forget to ask "How are you doing?" They were starting to get cold and we don't want pictures with them shivering, so I thought why don't we start running? Two birds with one stone. If you are the one getting your picture taken then don't feel bad to let your photographer know how your doing. We want to know (well at least I do). Doesn't mean I can get you a coffee, but at least I know you are tired ;)

Peter Mahar - Destination Wedding Photographer - Portland OR