Tips and Tricks on Photographing the Average Joe with Jeff Rojas

All images by Jeff Rojas. Used with permission.

Photographer Jeff Rojas is trying to break the stereotype that men aren’t as easy to work with as women when it comes to shooting portraits. He’s already put out a full book on Photographing Men, and he’s also got some tutorials on how to photograph the “Average Joe.” Now of course, not everyone is a special model who works night and day focusing on how they look because that’s how they make money. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take a great photo of anyone no matter who they are. So we caught up with Jeff to ask for a few hints.

Jeff’s tutorial is part of the 5DayDeal 2017 Complete Photography Bundle, that includes a number of other really great tutorials, presets and packages for a ridiculously low price.

Phoblographer: Some photographers have big expectations when working with talent and ordinary folk. So in your experience, what do you think are some of the biggest differences in the mentalities of both paid, professional “Joe” and Average “Joe.”

Jeff: Shoot less, talk more. Regardless of who is in front of your camera, be it professional model, average person, or your dog, communication is of the utmost importance. The best way to make anyone feel comfortable behind the lens is reassurance and acknowledgement that you understand how odd it can feel to be on that side of the camera. I choose to have the same attitude on set: both on a commercial set or a private portrait session.

Phoblographer: What are some key tidbits of information photographers should keep in mind before they begin to photograph ordinary folks?

Jeff: Being in front of the lens is a lot like being in front of a large audience – not everyone is going to feel comfortable beig in that situation and it’s honestly foreign to most. I feel that it’s your responsibility as an imagemaker to be sure your client understands you’re on their side and you understand their pain.

Secondly, it still surprises me how many “professional photographers” have never been photographed by another photographer. That’s like going to a dentist who has never seen a dentist. Would you trust them? Practice what you preach. Suck it up and have your photo taken. Maybe then, you’ll stop taking 10,000 photos in a studio session. 😉

Phoblographer: What kind of conversations do you typically have with the Average Joe when you personally photograph them?

Jeff: Small talk. Let me be clear: if you’re not a people person, that’s fine! You don’t need to talk, you need to listen. People love talking about themselves, especially things they’re passionate about. You’d be surpised just how open people get when they’re talking about things that they’re passionate about. I would be careful though – you’ll go from a photographer to a therapist if you’re not careful.

Phoblographer: How do you typically work to get people out of that self-conscious state of mind?

Jeff: Listen. Don’t talk. I believe that the Dalai Lama had it right: “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Learn something about your client and use it to hold a conversation.

Jeff’s full tutorial is part of the 5DayDeal 2017 Complete Photography Bundle, which includes a number of other really great tutorials, presets and packages for a ridiculously low price.