How Photographers Can Make Photography Less Awkward for the Model

People are interesting creatures.  When preparing to attend a wedding, they frequently spend an inordinate amount of money on clothes so that other people will notice them, but as soon as they see a camera, they dive for cover. Some though, actually try. They try to ‘act normal’ and keep their conversation going while they are being photographed, which is all good and well, just they have that face on, that “I’m being photographed” face where they are still talking yet their eyes are looking sideways at you. 

Others go for the “scandal celebrity” pose with their hand blocking the photo. Then there’s that truly weird breed of person that will not leave you alone to do your job because they are convinced every photo NEEDS to include them. So how do we reduce the awkwardness in this relationship between model and photographer?

Yes, camouflage. this is not saying that you jump into your khaki with twigs taped to your helmet and shoe polish on your face. This means going stealthy, which can be hard with a “big” lens on like a 70-200mm f/2.8, but try shooting through conversations to get the desired result. People tend to relax a bit when they think you’re taking photos of someone else and not them. Which means you need to understand your lens and it’s focusing capabilities, being quick enough to get the shot.  

Try and use your surroundings, reflections work good, be on the lookout for mirrors etc. Whenever you shoot a family event or a party, try to put on a long lens and go into the corner of the room and shoot for a while so that nobody notices you.  This will help you achieve the best candid results.

Friend Not Foe
We photographers are constantly misrepresented as the bad guy. Picture the old Westerns, John Wayne in his white cowboy hat, six-shooter at his side, facing off with some poor person wearing a black cowboy hat and a DSLR at their side, not so. Sometimes it’s up to us to give all evidence to the contrary. 

How do we do this? People skills! So the deal is, you could be the best photographer and know every aspect of your camera but lack the skills to know how to manipulate a person’s mood and comfort, then you’ll still come away with an average photo. It’s the art of bringing out their best, relaxing them and allowing them to be themselves for the photo. This could entail a quick joke, a one liner, or a compliment. Be their best friend for that moment in time, like they’re the only one in the room with your complete attention.

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