Filming the subjects without making them feel comfortable first is one of the most common mistakes photographers do when they delve into portrait photography. The thing is that people in general are naturally self-conscious. It is a bit awkward to have someone do your portrait photos on a one-on-one basis (unless you’re a seasoned model and if by then, the subject should be just fine). If your subject tends to look awkward and uncomfortable, go through the efforts to talk to them and make them feel more at ease.
Ask them how the weather was on their way to the shoot location. Try to keep the conversation going even in between takes. This Raleigh family photographer always does this with clients. You will see that the subject will slowly ease up and begin being comfortable and it will reflect in the photos that you are able to take. Nobody looks good while uncomfortable, mind you.
Awkward hands are also notorious in portrait photography
People usually just don’t know how to pose their hands or where to put them. More often than not, this kind of awkwardness will also be quite visible in the photos. Hands intentionally placed to stay on the sides tend to look too stiff and too contrived so opt for more comfortable positions where the hands are resting on something or holding onto something.
Fake smiles also do not look good in portrait photos
Ever had a bad day and you needed to have your picture taken so you force yourself to smile? Your mouth widens into a grin, Cheshire cat style, but your eyes don’t crinkle so you end up looking a bit disturbed. The same thing goes with your subjects. You never know whether they are in the mood or not but when the smiles start looking fake, go out of your way to get that authentic and real smile. Make them laugh by cracking a little joke. Or for women, you can compliment them on how good they look in the photos. It will surprise you what a little heartfelt compliment can do to a person.
Angles are everything
Do not ever photograph a woman with her shoulders square as a box. It is not a good look for women. Shoulders are usually the widest parts of the body so when you do a full frontal without the advantage of any angle distortions whatsoever, she will tend to look wider than she actually is. Make the shoulders slightly asymmetrical by having her pose sideways with one foot right in front of another and with the stomach sucked in and the buttocks stuck out. You will be thanked numerous times for having to go through the effort of actually giving out the directions for her poses, guaranteed.
Lastly, and this is just a shoo-in in the event that you are taking your own self portrait and you happened to fancy a smart phone as your medium; veer away from the front facing cameras. Back facing cameras have better resolutions and will allow you to pose properly when you use the timer option.