Taking a portrait, you are trying to capture the essence of your subject in a photograph. For this reason, connecting with the person in front of the camera is essential. This connection between the photographer and the subject of the image may help you evoke feelings and emotions in the photo, making a fascinating and impactful photograph.
That’s why understanding a little of the psychology at play, setting expectations, telling your subject your main idea about the mood you want for the photographs, and being thoughtful and compassionate about the person in front of the camera are essential elements to success with your portrait shoot. These skills are easy to learn through practice and help you make better portraits.
A good portrait photographer taking a photograph is always trying to show the person behind the mask to make images emotionally impactful.
It is not the subject, it’s how you treat the subject.Elliott Erwitt
If you are careful with your subject and connect with him/her, the person will offer part of him/herself to be portrayed in striking images. This is the great secret of portrait photography. Elliot Erwitt, the renowned Magnum photographer, was really aware of the importance of the subject to have a good result in his images.
Provide feedback to your subject
To get better portraits is really important to provide positive feedback to the model posing for your photographs. You can help the subject show some images to encourage him/her, and don’t be scared to ask for some adjustments/changes if you want something different or a little more.
If some idea is not working, be honest and let the model know that you can try other ideas because something (maybe the poses, the light, the background, or the outfit) does not match what you had in mind. Circling back to an idea once you are better connected emphatically with the subject is always possible.
Another way to make better portraits is to provide examples of fundamental poses to your subject, including a simple head and shoulders image. Some examples of poses may include properly positioned hands by the face. Other poses can be full-body to try also some environmental portraits during the photoshoot. Always remember to provide feedback to your subject and remember to show some of the photos you just took, as we said before.