Reflecting – 2011 started off rough, got worse, scared the shit out of me, pissed me off, made me reevaluate my life, my priorities, my patterns and my people. I responded by changing everything that needed to be changed and holding on tight to everything that needed to be held.
I learned that control is an illusion, holding on to things that no longer work is useless and success requires focus AND action.
What did you learn from 2011?
Basic Photo Tips – Creating Comfort – Guest post (and photo credit) by the marvelous Lana Reed
Creating comfort doesn´t always come naturally; while some folks have what many would call a natural charisma that seems to make social situation of all kinds run smoothly; most of us are not this lucky. Thankfully, there are specific skills and techniques that one can practice to help make us all look like naturals.
Firstly, confidence, fake it, until you make it. Body language is the number one way to express confidence. No matter the stage, smile, walk tall and act fully confident in your equipment and in your experience. Don´t let your professional desire to have the best shots uncompromised show in any way. Even if you are way out of your comfort zone and you’re scared every shot has been a disaster, act confident in your knowledge and in your skills. Your clients will have no choice but to pick up on this confidence. Also, if you are a younger photographer and are worried about not being taken seriously, I have found that in the field of photography youth does not act as a disadvantage, to the contrary, it can work to your advantage because the average person automatically assumes that the younger generation is good with technology. Know this, act the part, and people will never consider not taking you seriously. Every photographer, regardless of their experience, will encounter equipment or environmental struggles. Things never go as planned, aspects will always change, rain may fall, or makeup might run in the heat. Respond to the small things as they come along, don´t worry about the big things. Influence the things you can, and let go of the things you can’t. Keep your cool and your professionalism, and all the while broadcast your confidence through your body language.
Be Known. Introduce yourself, we have all seen or experienced that silent photographer who thinks he is going about unnoticed but that everyone notices as he makes all feel uncomfortable. We don’t know whether to stop and smile or continue as if we don’t see them. Directly approach your subject, introduce yourself and ask permission to take their picture. Let them know that you are the photographer for the evening and you will be wandering around taking candid or group shots — whichever applies. You can always reveal your intention using an unassuming simple line like “please continue your discussion, I just wanted to introduce myself and let you know I’ll be floating around taking candid shots this evening.” This simple introduction and statement of intention will instantly put a person at ease. Using simple ways to help make people more comfortable can go a long way, and using the spoken word is an invaluable means of doing so.
While the above advice applies to group and solo shoots, there are some specific areas to focus on in studio portraits. One-on-one portrait shoots are of a slightly different nature than event photography. While the above still applies, my trick for portrait shoots is to speak to my clients throughout the shoots. Any topic works: current events, funny news stories, or asking about them: their family and pets. Express interest in the individual! Everyone wants to be known, so showing a genuine interest in them will help them open up. In addition, chatting has the added benefit of making the time go faster, especially with camera shy clients, talking will alleviate their anxiety and help them to focus on something other than their self consciousness; soon they will forget they are in front of a lens. All the while, you are photographing and gently guiding them toward angles and poses that will be more flattering. When a pose becomes right, simply ask them to hold there for a moment and smile or not smile. When an angle has been explored fully, I continue the conversation. In the case of a camera shy subject specifically, start with your smallest lens perhaps a 50mm. Not having an intimidating lens looming in their face can make a big difference in comfort level. Keep in mind that talking to your clients during a photo shoot, is priceless to help them relax but also you are starting the foundations of a relationship that combined with great shots will lead to referrals and repeat sessions.
Photo shoots can be very empowering. Allowing yourself to be photographed requires a great deal of vulnerability especially in a culture where looks and beauty are considered to be such valuable assets, the average bride or pregnant mother to be can feel a great deal of apprehension, doubt, fear and pressure to appear beautiful. Images have the power to capture the spirit of beauty that shines uniquely in every individual and photography can actually transcend limitations of actual physical appearance since it can capture a one split second expression. We should take great care to act in a conscientious manner with our photography subjects—not only to take great shots but to create a memory of the experience of the photography session itself. Compliments can be great tool to cultivate comfort. Honestly and simply remarking on hairstyle, eye color, etc. can make clients feel great and in turn give more personality and energy to the photoshoot!
In the realm of photojournalism, the goal is to find a balance between the natural and the posed, We want to maintain the integrity of the photography by photographing in a way that requires the least amount of post editing. If you are interested in exploring this strategy, my technique when shooting portraits is to observe what pose and mannerisms the subject gravitates towards naturally and then tweaking it gently as needed for it to be more flattering. In this way, I can capture a pose that is more authentic to the person they truly are.
On my first ever professional shoot, a Saturday wedding where the terribly lighting was putting me into panic mode, in my inexperience, I made the mistake of verbalizing that panic. Thankfully, the established, experienced photographer I was learning from took me aside and gave me advice that I still consider to be the most valuable I have ever received when it comes to keeping your client’s confidence. When behind the lens, a professional only ever says that the subject looks perfect, the scene is beautiful and the light is just right. Always keep your doubts and frustrations in your head, and only articulate that every picture is perfect. It’s such a simple rule, but we so often we forget lost in our art making. Next time you attend an event listen to what the photographer says, if you catch them making this mistake, take a moment to observe how the look on people’s faces change. Regardless of how the disastrously the shoot is progressing, I want my subjects to feel relaxed and to sense that the picture is perfect.
Photo shoots are a celebration of your subject, and making people feel comfortable can really be so much easier if you are conscience of your words and actions and their affect on clients. Just remember: always be confident, outgoing and positive; and your confidence will be contagious.
Lana is a photographer in San Antonio Texas. If you are looking for amazing and affordable photo work please visit her website.
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