How to deal with "normal" people

Today is an article a bit different, as I'm goning to talk to you about what we call "social photography" and how to deal with it.

What is "Social Photography"

It's basically taking pictures of "social situations" (I bet you didn't expect that !) such as weddings, family portraiture, kids, engagements, your grand-ma's birthday and all that jazz. In this kind of photography, you will only deal with "normal" people, and what I mean by that is random people like you and me, whose job is not being a professional model.

The good thing to know 

Most people like you and I are not born with a facility to model. Being a model is not only a hobby, it's a real vocation with perks and difficulties. Even if some of us feel a bit more comfortable in front of a camera, like confident actors, the majority will look at you, the photographer, totally lost and feeling ridiculous. Just think about it. Picture yourself spending money to face a stranger in front of a huge lense for the first time, telling you, "Ok, now, GO, look pretty".

Nightmare ?

That's what I thought.

The role of the photographer: Make people feel comfortable.

Let's be clear: it is YOUR role as a photographer to guide your client/model. YOUR role to make them feel comfortable and happy to be there. If a client is paying for your service, it's always for the same reason: they want nice pictures of themselves. That is to say that they will hate the pictures in which they look super tense or with the same pose and a frozen smile. Your main goal as a photographer is to make your client leave the photoshoot feeling pleased with themselves and content. That's just it.

How to do it:

Here are a few tips to help you out.

#1 See your client BEFORE shooting and get to know him/her. Don't forget that your client is paying for a service, and thus, should be part of the whole process. I once created a project when I was really young to offer a personalized photo session to women. I even created a questionnaire a few weeks before in order to meet each model in hopes of setting up a unique individual experience for each one.

#2 Share your ideas and encourage the models to contribute theirs. The more communication you have with your client the easier it will be for him/her to feel totally comfortable on the day of the photoshoot.

#3 Stick with these ideas. Allow yourself to go a little crazy ONLY if you feel that she/he is having a blast.

#4 On the D-Day, take your time. I insist on that. People need time to get used to an unusual environment such as a studio with lights and a photographer. They want to look good, especially when they paid for it, and they already put a lot of pressure on themselves. They don't need to feel pressured by the time. That is also why...

#5 The first pictures always suck. Except if you are facing a total genius. Let's say you are not. The first pictures are the most awkard ones. Take the benefit of it to adjust your lights settings while your client is warming up.

#6 G-u-i-d-e the person in front of you. It drives me crazy when a friend comes back to me saying that she/he had a photoshoot in which nobody told them what to do. Such a waste of time. A normal person will not know how to place her/his arms, legs and where to look. Try a few things to warm up, explain why some poses are not looking good and mostly, say that they are doing a good job.

#7 Care about who you are taking pictures of. When you are satisfied by your pictures, show a couple of examples on your camera. Tricky part: they will either hate it, or love it. If they love it, they will be even more comfortable to keep going and their trust will grow. If they hate it, it gives you an opportunity to re-do things the way they want. In both ways, you win.

#8 : Help them to step out of their comfort zone. I noticed that my best pictures, i.e the ones I'm the most happy about and so is the client, are when after half an hour, I suggest a slightly new idea and encourage them to go for it. Don't forget to keep it gradual. You can't just take a classic portrait and then go "wow, I have an idea, let's do some lingerie shots !"

When a model is having fun, you can even make her climb on trees.
 With that being said, I hope this will help you to structure your photoshoots and have better pictures in social photography. My last advice will be : Have fun. Enjoy every minute of it.

Talk soon, 



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