How do YOU get Portrait Subjects to Relax?

Image by Priscilla Lumbreras Fernández

This is a question I'm often asked and its one that there are many answers to – so I thought it might be a fun discussion question for the wider dPS community.

When photographing people – how do you get them to relax and be at ease in front of the camera?

Some people are naturals as portrait subjects but many people ‘freeze' – particularly when sitting for a photographer that they don't know – so what techniques do you use to help them to loosen up?

I'd love to hear your answers on this in comments below but here are a few answers from those on our Facebook page who I asked this to last week:

“Smiling always helps, be in a good mood yourself even if you don't feel like it. Your mood will often set theirs.” – Alisa Lillico

“To get an honest smile, I put myself out there, make dumb jokes, make fun of myself and find what made them break “self consciousness” for a real laugh, then riff on that. I ask a challenging question for a serious or unconventional portrait. The ability to make a connection across cultural and language barriers, across age and income differences, across all the walls that enclose and define us is the most important talent a photographer can bring to the moment.” – Stacy Ericson

“Music.. I ask them to bring a favorite CD… or sometimes, i'll put on an old stand-up comedy CD… or have a comedy DVD playing on the TV behind me. Natural smiles are the Best!” – Scott Garland

“I usually talk the whole way through the session, asking them questions about them, also I do the poses I am asking them to do so they see that I would do it to, then I explain to them why (ie. this will make you look even skinnier, more curvy, draw attention to your eyes, etc.), then I go back to talking about whatever we were before the posing like it's no big deal and take the photo.” – Arpil Roberson Huggler

“I usually do a meet up with them. That way they can meet me and my team on a comfortable atmosphere. Hang out, chit-chat and get to know each other. Then on the day of the shoot we have some things to talk about!” – Jay Rodriguez

OK – now it's over to you – how do you help a portrait subject relax?

Post from: Digital Photography School's Photography Tips. Check out our resources on Portrait Photography Tips, Travel Photography Tips and Understanding Digital Cameras.


How do YOU get Portrait Subjects to Relax?

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