8 Ways To Make Photography Subjects Feel Comfortable

1. Relax yourself
The same thing applies to photography.  Just have confidence when speaking with models and they will feel more relaxed and comfortable.

2. Take a tip from public speakers
If you’ve ever taken a public speaking course, you’ve learned not to say words such as, “Uh”, “umm”, “like”, etc).  Photographers also have words that should be avoided.  When a photographer looks at the LCD and is disappointed with the results, they often say things like, “woops”, or “uh oh”, or “that doesn’t look good”, etc.  How do these little habits affect models?  Badly.  It makes them feel uncomfortable and it makes them think that the shoot is not going well.  Would you want a reviewer to say things like that when looking over your portfolio?

3. Don’t leave the model clueless
It’s convenient for photographers when a model is experienced enough to pose herself, but it’s tough for models to read the photographer’s mind.  If you haven’t spent the time to learn posing, get started.  By directing your model to general poses and then giving them the freedom to vary the pose, you’ll help the model to feel comfortable.

4. Be yourself
Photographers recommend different “one liners” to use in order to get the model to smile.  That might be okay if you naturally have a corny sense of humor, but for most people it could do more harm than good. Just be yourself.

5. Give HELPFUL posing directions
Portrait photography is not a game of Twister, so quit directing your model like it is.  ”Turn your head an inch to the right, now bend your right knee, now put your left hand on the knee and make a fist”…. ugh!  When you're working with models, tell them simple poses and allow them to naturally vary the pose, or show them a picture of another model in the pose on your smartphone (posing apps!) and have the model mirror the pose.  Much simpler and more natural.

6. Show the subject some of the photos
If you're shooting a client instead of a model, ask the client if they want you to photograph them in a different way.  This is a good opportunity to find out little things that the client doesn’t like about their looks.  Clients sometimes ask to photograph the other side of their face, they take their hair down, or make other changes.  They'll RARELY want you to change anything about the photos, but it’s a good way for you to know how to avoid the things they are self-conscious about.

7. No touching
Touching can make some people feel very uncomfortable.  If you need to flick some hair out of the model’s face or lay out the train of a wedding dress, ask first.  ”Do you mind if I…”  Some people might not care, but it’s a big deal to some people who have a “bubble.”

8. Be ready for the shoot
Nothing will kill the model’s confidence in you more than showing up late, not having the gear set up, etc.  Be ready and you’ll look like a pro.

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