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People_Skills_for_Portrait_Photography

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					Title:
People Skills for Portrait Photography

Word Count:
965

Summary:
Taking great portraits is as much about people skills as it is about
technical ability, or using the latest and greatest photographic
equipment. Unless you can first see through your subject's eyes, and
understand her as a unique individual, and then build rapport with her so
you can unveil and accentuate her finest qualities, your portraits will
remain mediocre at best. Some lessons learned along my journey as a
photographer may help those who choose to follow.


Keywords:
photography, portrait photography, child photography, women, children,
hobby, hobbies, amateur photographer, photographer, outdoor photographer,
camera, digital photography


Article Body:
Taking great portraits is as much about people skills as it is about
technical ability, or using the latest and greatest photographic
equipment. Sure, refining your technical skills and knowledge may expand
the extent of your capabilities, and using superior equip ment may indeed
boost your edge. But, unless you can first see through your subject's
eyes, and understand her as a unique individual, and then build rapport
with her so you can unveil and accentuate her finest qualities, your
portraits will remain mediocre at best. Some lessons learned along my
journey as a photographer may help those who choose to follow.

1. If using a tripod, compose your portrait and then take one step just
to the side and forward from the camera. Do not look through the
viewfinder as you capture your subject's image. This allows you to make
eye contact initially with your subject, and then direct her in mood,
expression, position, and the angle of gaze you are aiming for. When
your subject interacts with your camera, the result c an be a cold or
lifeless rendering, but when you engage your subject through eye contact,
expression, gestures and words, the result can be a warm and candid
reflection, charged with mood or emotion.

2. If you are not using a tripod, you really should re double your effort
to maintain constant interaction with your subject. Many photographers
tend to keep their eyes in the viewfinder of the camera, but this leads
to your subject interacting more with the front glass in your lens than
with you. Again, you do not want the sterile and lifeless rendering that
most often comes when the camera serves to isolate you the photographer
from your subject. Interaction with an inanimate object (your camera)
can never be a substitute for interaction with another human being (you),
when your goal is to capture the essence of your subject, and reflect the
attitude and emotion she was feeling at that moment in time.
3. Allow your subject to be herself. A little girl dressed up in fairy
wings for a special picture is very cute, and I suppose there is a place
in this world for cute. But, contrast this with the little girl who just
loves to dance. You put her in her everyday clothes, stand her in front
of a plain backdrop, put on her favorite music and say to her, "can you
show me how to dance to this song?" You should have no difficulty in
capturing timeless expressions there. Now imagine a jeans and t-shirt
kind of guy whose true passion in all of life is sailing. You dress him
up in a tailored suit; formally pose him in front of a low key backdrop,
seated in a Chippendale chair, and use classic loop lighting. What would
be said of this portrait years later? "Who was this guy, an executive?"
But just suppose, you photographed this same guy in his favorite t-shirt
and blue jeans, at the helm of his beloved sail boat, on a beautiful late
afternoon, just as the boat was coming about? What would be said of this
portrait years later? "This was Charlie, doing what he loved most! That
was such a glorious day." The point is, "keep it honest". Fantasy can
be cute, but your subject being herself, years later this will be much
more meaningful.

4. Allow your subject's expression to be honest. A frown or a grimace
that is genuinely felt can be more interesting than a smile that is
forced. I try to never just pose my subject and then say, "Okay, now
smile for me." If you want your subject to smile then tell a joke, put
on a face, or perhaps merely smile at her and she will smile back at you.
People generally tend to reflect in their face what they see in yours,
but in my experience this is not always so. Nevertheless, interaction
with your subject is the key. That being said, the next time you have a
difficult subject ask him to tell you a joke, to bring out a smile, if
that's the expression you are after. If you are a professional, you know
that smiles sell, but if you're an amateur, you are under no pressure to
sell, so make your portraits interesting. Not everything in the world is
to smile about.

5. Direct your portraits. Take control of the composition of your
portraits! Do not be afraid to tell or show your subject what you want.
Sometimes showing is best. I often find that actually demonstrating a
pose I have in mind, works better than trying to direct my subject
through words alone. If you are photographing a group, your life will be
easier, if you arrange and pose the adults first. Then, work your way
from oldest (or more mature and settled) to youngest of the children.
The point to remember is, as the photographer, you should take charge of
the shot. The success or failure of the portrait will be your
responsibility, so take charge.

Engage your subject to establish and build rapport with her, to take your
photos to a higher level. Make your portraits more meaningful by keeping
them honest, and natural. We all know a fantasy photo can be cute, and a
formally posed portrait can be graceful and dignified, if that is your
subject's personality. But, a portrait that is true to the subject is
always more meaningful. Allow your subject to be herself, and never
force an expression. Learn to take charge and direct your portraits and
you will move far ahead in your journey as a photographer. Practice your
people skills with each portrait you take. People skills are the
prerequisite to all else, if you want to take great portraits.   Good day
and happy clicking!

				
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