Tips for Portrait Photography for Shy Models

When looking at a portrait, the first thing we tend to notice is where the subject is looking or what message they are sending through their eyes. This post addresses both photographers and those having their photograph taken. You can use our tips for portrait photography to work with shy models.

Model Tips for Portrait Photography

First of all, it is not uncommon for some people to dread having their photo taken of, especially if it is a portrait. This can either come from insecurities we might be having regarding the way our face looks like, or maybe we consider ourselves totally un-photogenic, when in reality, it might only be about not knowing a few basic tricks.

Referring to portraits, people sometimes tend to look away from the camera, creating the illusion of depth, melancholy or distance. Stop. What you need to know is that looking away from the camera leads to a not so powerful photo, it shows insecurity from both the photographer and the poser, and gives an overall clumsy and unprofessional touch.

Portrait Photography tips

Eyes are the gateway to the soul. So, when you look straight into the camera, you let the viewer see a fraction of your soul. For this to happen, you should learn how to overcome your insecurities by following these simple steps.

  • #1 If you have time to prepare before your shoot, remember that light is the key to taking good photographs. Although natural light is best, there are plenty of ways you could enhance your features using artificial means, such as makeup. It does not matter what gender you are, you still need your face illuminated, corners shadowed and eyes enhanced.
  • #2 Avoid looking straight into the camera, because that pose is really hard to pull off when you are not so confident. Look above the camera, or a bit below, but never straight into it. The viewer is still going to think you are looking in the camera.
  • #3 Also, studies have shown that men who tilt their head backwards and women who tilt theirs forward in photos, are seen as more attractive.
  • #4 A smile is the best makeup someone can wear. But be careful. It has to be a real, candid smile, not the forced ‘say cheese’ one that instantly makes you look like a Japanese couple. Practice makes perfect, and mastering that perfect, natural smile which is an instant beautifier is no waste of your time.

Portrait Photography tips for shy models

To avoid looking weird or completely unnatural when smiling, do this: close your eyes and tilt your head down and count to 3; when you get to three, open your eyes, smile and lift your head. This way, you will seem like a natural and there will be no more awkwardness in your photos.

  • #5 If you want a photo to capture you and your friends and how much fun you’re having, fixating the camera won’t do much for you. Be natural, let you hair down. Laugh, look at each other or, in a relaxed manner, touch them, and create physical contact. Usually, when there are more people in the picture, you ought to emphasize the relationship between you and the link that brought you all there. While a photo of you and your work colleagues could have a more professional touch, given that you work together as a team, you could consider looking into the camera.

Portrait Photography tips for shy models

Adopt a professional, yet relaxed pose and add warmth to your eyes; you surely do not wish to scare the viewer. If you and your significant other want to have your photo taken, you could even consider looking into each other’s eyes. It doesn’t have to be a lustful look; it could be joyful and innocent. It all depends on the nature of your relationship.

Portrait Photography tips for shy models

  • #6 Usually, when you look at something that isn’t also in the pictures, you make everyone curious as to what it is. Of course, there are cases when being distant in a photo can truly capture your delicacy or fragile soul. However, you must make sure this pose suits you and that the context and background are appropriate. If you are in a studio and look up, it may look as if someone was dangling a toy in front of you, to keep you focused. On the other hand, if you’re in a public place, such as Edith Piaf in this picture, you could totally pull it off.

Portrait Photography tips for shy models

Photographers Tips for Portrait Photography

Yes, you too are responsible of how your model looks.

Portrait Photography tips for shy models

  • 1# Don’t intimidate your models. Use music, jokes, and an overall relaxed atmosphere to loosen up the nerves. Let them know that it’s not a problem if you take more than one shot. You would rather have something that both of you like, than make a compromise, try too hard with the post editing and ending up with both of you being disappointed. As a photographer, try to not be arrogant. True, you do possess a great amount of knowledge regarding poses, angles and light. But your model doesn’t, so be patient.
  • #2 As to what setting you should use, keep in mind that a sharp portrait is better than a fuzzy one. Adjust the sharpness accordingly. Too much make be too noisy. Too little puts both you and the model in a bad light. It reads into the model not being expressive enough.
  • #3 Admittedly, the Rule of Thirds, is the key to taking good, aesthetically correct photos. It means that by dividing your frame in three equal parts, your photo have correct proportions. This can easily be broken, because sometimes, placing your subject right in the center of the photo can create a powerful impact, or far right can give the subject room to look into. However, this can also be overlooked. In photography, rules serve merely as guidelines. The rest is up to you. There are no rules to making art.

Portrait Photography tips for shy models

  • #4 Take more than one shot. When taking several shots of the same subject, posing approximately the same, it’s easier to choose a good photo to work with. Also, you could take multiple shots of the same pose while experimenting with lightning or changing angles. You never know what could come out of it.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8