Real People Portraiture

Real People Portraiture

Portrait photography can be a challenge. It’s not just about pointing the camera at your subjects, asking them to smile and firing the shutter.

The best portraits are about the subjects: allowing the people being photographed to look their best and their most natural, without the stilted smiles and often uncomfortably formalised or contrived poses.

“Photographing Real People” has been a popular workshop in the Workshops in a SNAP! Spring 2009 programme.

Greg Perry and I ran this workshop, the last of the Workshops in a SNAP! Spring Workshops Programme, on Saturday.

This workshop emphasises real people portraiture — it unveils the secrets to getting your subjects to relax, to photograph them in a way that goes beyond the “fake” smile that many people put on when you point a camera at them.

Some great tips that emerged from this workshop:

  1. Introduce yourself to your subject. “Hi, I’m…” will often help break the ice and help your subject relax.
  2. Keep your subject engaged during the shoot – talk to them and periodically make eye contact (look out from behind the viewfinder).
  3. Ask closed questions when engaging your subjects – questions that will allow you to generate small chat during the shoot. Simple questions such as “What’s your star sign?” or “What’s your favourite colour” can help get the ball rolling.
  4. Don’t be afraid to crack jokes with your subject, ask them humorous questions or even wink and blow kisses at them. Often, it’s their reaction to these that will allow you to capture that “decisive moment” in portrait photography.
  5. Pose your subject in terms of light, position and angle, but don’t take any pictures until your subject is responding to your banter or jokes. Wait for the response and in the split second after that, take the picture. You’ll catch the person’s most natural laugh or smile.

Participants worked with our fantastic “real people” models: Marc and Amanda, who are recently engaged. Big thanks to the happy couple for their participation, enthusiasm and great modeling!

Marc and Amanda in the studio

Marc and Amanda outdoors

Marc and Amanda

A new workshops programme will be released in mid-January 2010. For more information, check out Workshops in a SNAP!

2 Comments
  • Charlene

    19/11/2009 at 1:56 pm

    #3 – ask closed questions? I’ve always thought those sorts of questions were referred to as open questions.

    Put me on your mailing list for the next round of workshops please. This was one I was really, really interested in attending, but could not make 🙂

  • seng

    19/11/2009 at 2:04 pm

    Closed questions ie. ones with a finite response. Eg. “What is your favourite food?”. I’ll definitely pop your name into the workshops mailing list!

Post a Comment