The Basics of Interacting with a Portrait Subject/Model

Model: Bec Fordyce

Model: Bec Fordyce

Fact of life: Most people in front of the camera cannot read your mind or figure out what you’re going for in your final image. There needs to be a back and forth conversation between the photographer and the subject to create a photo.

Interacting with a subject in front of the camera is essential to anyone looking to get into portraiture, and after having a creative vision in mind, it’s also the way that you can convey to someone what you’re looking for in a photo. Besides, it wastes less time.

Dan from AdoramaTV tries to illustrate this and explain it very simply in the latest OnSet video.

What Dan says is that you’ll need to communicate ideas and commands to your subject with an emphasis on openness so that any confusion is totally cleared up. Both of you have to collaborate and create the best image. Indeed, all portraiture is a collaboration effort.

Dan also says things like bringing your own music so that it’s not a distraction of any sort to the portrait subject or the model.

To make a man look more elegant, it's not only all about the attire but it's also about the specific pose. Have him shift his weight depending on which shoulder is the higher one. The lower shoulder should be bright forward more and the head should be tilted slightly.

To make a man look more elegant, it’s not only all about the attire but it’s also about the specific pose. Have him shift his weight depending on which shoulder is the higher one. The lower shoulder should be bright forward more and the head should be tilted slightly.

When interacting with someone who isn’t a model, I usually try to meet with them beforehand and have a conversation over coffee or an alcoholic beverage to calm them down. In fact, it’s normal for someone to be nervous. The conversation is usually about what kind of photos the person wants to have done and what they want to convey about themselves in the final images. Then I have the person talk about themselves more so that the idea and thought generation process begins between both of us.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung 85mm f1.4 review images (2 of 3)ISO 1001-800 sec at f - 1.4

After this it’s a matter of choosing a wardrobe, location and shooting the images. But on locations, sometimes it’s best to show someone what body language you’re going for unless you’re a real master of posing and adjusting them on the spot. The process is repeated over and over again with various looks, locations, etc.