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

Take Precautions to Prevent Your Subject’s Exhaustion

As most of our readers are amateur photographer trying to make the transition to professional ones, we address this post to them as part of the things one must learn at the beginning of the journey. There are many things to learn, it seems, so many that at times all the effort you’re making can feel a little overwhelming. While no one can guarantee that you’re going to make it as a pro in the business, what we can promise is that if you do, things will get easier, and they only seem overwhelming for now, when paid gigs come in very rarely if they do at all. To most of us in the beginner days, putting that much effort and money into something that is still only a hobby can seem hopeless at times (especially if you also need to maintain an unrelated job for the time being). Since this post is about exhaustion, this is a point when you can feel a sort of exhaustion yourself, but if you persevere, better things will come, eventually.


The point we are trying to make is that amidst all this info which you’re supposed to acquire, it’s easy to get lost in the technical details of ISO and lighting and forget the people skills which a good photographer needs. Helping your clients relax while you photograph them is very important, both for preventing exhaustion and for making sure the photos are actually good and don’t feel artificial or forced. The so-called bedside manner is indeed a requirement in many professions and photography is definitely one of them. Moreover, if you lack this quality or skill as a photographer, this can modify your whole work for the worse, unlike the other professions who only require it to make the people you work with be comfortable. Not that we’re implying that’s optional or anything.

The one thing to keep in mind is that most of the people you will photograph will not be professional models, familiar with the whole drill. They will be people hiring you to help immortalize a precious moment of their lives, like, for example, if you will become a wedding photographer. Since they are not used to the routine of posing, exhaustion will catch up with them rather quickly, leading to the portraits being less good than they could be, leading in turn to a lessened satisfaction with your services. But the good news is that you can keep this in mind throughout the photo shoot and take little precautions at all times to prevent your subjects from getting too tired too fast.

These precautions you can take would depend a bit on your personal style too, but an example of a good strategy you could develop is this: spend the first 10 minutes or so helping them relax and feel comfortable enough to pose, then ask for the poses you want in a series of more intense minutes, then tone down the rhythm and suggest breaks.

During the breaks, you could suggest refreshments like water or juice, then, after removing the drinks from the scene, you could allow a semi-break by telling them to act more natural or pose whichever way they feel like it. This may lead to very good photos (which is a win-win situation), or to not that good photos, which are still useful for the respite and for allowing you subjects to become more and more comfortable with posing. Few things beat exhaustion better than being allowed to pose however you want to every now and then, so if you only take one tip out of this post, take this one.

Making the Most of Your Wedding Portrait Photos: 3 Trends in 2014

As many artists will tell you, wedding portrait photos are an art in and of themselves. They are very important to the clients, of course, and can also greatly enrich your portfolio and enhance its overall value. That’s why, for today’s post, we’re taking a look at three trends that have been dictating the rules for this segment over the past months. They’ve been confirmed enough for us to assume that they’ll also be around until the end of the year; so, pay heed and make sure you’re doing everything right, in order to make the most of your wedding portrait photos.

1. Posed shots are the past


It’s not just wedding portrait photos that have become more dynamic and focused on storytelling. In fact, as seasoned family or pet photographers will confirm, the entire niche of photographic portraiture has become far more focused on natural settings and dynamism. Most photographers nowadays choose to photograph their clients in natural outdoor environments, thus lending an air of freshness and vivacity to their shots. It also helps place the subjects in a setting they love, since this will help them feel far more relaxed in front of the camera.

Another trend, which only comes to complete the above, is that of wedding portrait photos that could easily pass for photojournalism. What does this mean, in terms of actual images? It means that both the photographer and the clients take on a more candid approach. The end images are more natural and raw, less processed, more creative, and with a more ‘in the moment’ feel to them than ever before. Since photojournalism is all about spontaneity and capturing a good story within an instant, it goes without saying that the photos created like this are far more unique, fun for everyone involved and creative.

2. Pricing goes up with experience


Given today’s rather harsh economic climate, many wedding photographers are reluctant to increase the pricing of their services overall – and of their portrait sessions in particular. However, as seasoned pros will tell you, this is not necessarily a good approach. After all, if you’re investing in your business, it’s only natural to expect the prices to match your level of experience. What’s more, portrait photography can even be regarded as a separate niche within the wedding photography segment. It requires specialized equipment and technical skills. If you’re committed to creating ever better wedding portrait photos, you’re probably also investing in this. Classes, lenses, accessories and other investments should be reflected in your pricing options. What’s more, as you continue to grow your wedding photography business, it’s probably also a good idea to book more clients – in the long run, this increasing roster of customers will also act as an argument in your favor, when it comes to asking for higher fees.

3. Don’t underestimate the power of the print


Sure, everyone is online these days: wedding portrait photos garner impressive amounts of likes on Facebook, they’re shared by your clients over Instagram, and maybe even featured on Pinterest. But the problem is that they all too often end up forgotten on a CD or DVD somewhere. To help your wedding portrait photos enjoy a longer lifespan, but also to help increase your business, you should perhaps try offering a special print as a bonus to your clients, thus encouraging them to print more photos.

Also, one clear 2014 trend is experimenting with print materials. Canvas is very popular at the moment, but there are so many options the list is virtually endless. Some photographers over shadow boxes, others print on glass or wood, while others are experimenting with artwork products like metal and acrylic.

Combine Two Photography Niches to Be Unique

photographer-photography--005Struggling to make the transition from an amateur photographer to a pro can be a tough job as it is. Creating a compelling portfolio, acquiring a client pool and managing it properly, creating a name for yourself, struggling to get new gigs and the credibility that comes with them… it’s already hard, right? But besides this manager and marketing business, you are expected to be an exceptional artist as well. To be original and stand out from the crowd as much as possible – that’s quite some pressure, actually. But there’s a neat trick you can use if you’re still confused about which path to take and you don’t know how to create your own individual voice: go two ways. Combine two photography niches to be unique and you’ll really stand a chance of doing memorable work and working on projects which people could actually remember. Let’s explore this thought further and hopefully this will inspire you to further define your photography strategy.

First of all, let’s clarify for a bit what it would mean to combine two photography niches to be unique. It’s not about doing twice the work in two separate sub-fields to see which one works out better, no. It means choosing a main niche in which you plan to exercise your skills and combine it with a secondary one which is perhaps even rarer than the first. Let’s say, for the sake of example, that you plan to be a portrait photographer as the main choice. It’s a good option, especially if you’re passionate about it, but any amateur photographer aspiring to make the transition to a pro knows that it can be hard and not what you initially expect out of it. Think about choosing something even more specialized for a secondary niche; let’s say that you have an eye out for culinary photography, how about making a regular thing out of that as well? It might work out better than you think.

Following the logic of this example, since the portrait photography niche tends to pay better when you’re a beginner, this is obviously the main choice. But if you would also be into culinary photos, you could get in contact with people who own food blogs and who generally take their own pictures of food, and offer to take their portraits (for free, in the initial stage).  They would get some more promoting out of it, and you would probably create a unique project of portraits of the main food bloggers in your city and this will get you known as the only photographer who did this. It won’t get you immediately paid, probably, but it will contribute to creating a more recognizable photographic identity.

If you would do it the other way around, choose the culinary niche as the main specialization and the portrait photography as the secondary niche, then your project would look different as well. Instead of creating a series of portraits of people working in the food business or somehow iconic for the foodie culture, you could think about taking photos of plates of masterfully created dishes with their author in the background. It may look similar, but the presence of food and the change of focus would express better your primary-secondary niche dynamic. See where we’re getting at? Now think of your main choice, it’s probably the same kind of photography you’re pursuing right now, and then think of something else, maybe a little more specific, that you would like to have an interest in. Create your own choices and combine two photography niches in order to take a big step towards a better contoured professional identity. If there are plenty of other pursuers of your main niche, there wouldn’t be a lot of other photographers in the two combined ones. Consider your options and good luck with creating a more unique artistic voice.

Being a Portrait Photographer: the Dos and Don’ts


In many lines of work where you have to deal with people, having special people skills is a must. The famous “bedside manner” of doctors is just the tip of the iceberg, since many, many jobs involve having an adaptable and light social touch, especially when the job is a serving one. But being a photographer isn’t really regarded in professional mediums as being one of those serving jobs where your diplomacy and people skills are that important, since being a photographer, as we all know, equates more or less to being an artist. While that last statement is by all means true enough, the corollary is that it’s the type of artistry where those sometimes dreaded people skills do matter, since you need to negotiate with people (your present and potential clients) the exact vision they are looking for and the point of view you are trying to convert them to. This couldn’t be truer than in the case of portrait photography: not only do you work with people that commissioned the photos to deliver what they paid for, but sentient humans are the subject(s) you have to actually shoot in those photos as well. To make sure you don’t leave any kind of bitter after-taste, make sure you take these dos and don’ts into consideration when interacting with people as a portrait photographer.

 Be extra careful to promote a positive body image for your subjects

People who want their portrait taken want to feel pretty, and some of them might even be a bit extra sensitive about how they look or have bodily image issues. Be careful not to make anyone feel uncomfortable (not on purpose, of course) by suggesting they would look better in a different pose or angle, in a way that reminds them of their potential flaws. On the other hand, you can’t allow someone to really pose in a way that brings out their flaws, because then the bad result would be on you anyway, so keep in mind that it’s a thin line and you must keep the balance in the most pleasant manner possible.

Don’t be afraid to suggest spontaneous changes of plans

If during a photo shoot for a series of portrait you suddenly get an idea to do something that wasn’t originally part of the plan, suggest it right away. Maybe you’d like to invite someone else in the client’s circle to join the client in the photo frame, or maybe you want to get out of the frame altogether and try shooting in another environment, even one that hasn’t been prepped for the shoot. Whatever your idea is, try voicing it out, with confidence and tempered enthusiasm, you don’t know what good may come out of it, and the people you work with will appreciate your dedication and creativity. If they don’t seem open to the idea, don’t push it, of course; but even so, it still strengthens your professional image even if they don’t resonate with your proposal.

Try your luck with strangers (in a non-awkward way)

If being a portrait photographer is your thing, then you probably agree that people are a fascinating thing to watch and make for the most interesting subjects. Why don’t you try out your luck the next time you go for a long walk and, if you find someone interesting to take a picture of, approach them? It will not only be a good chance to further develop your people skills, but you may be surprised of the good works that can come out of a spontaneous thing like that. Take a look at the Humans of New York photo project, if you don’t know it already, and you’ll know what we mean by it. The more you try to talk to people about it, even if you get rejected, the more you can explore what kind of approach makes them uncomfortable, or work out a more reassuring and trustworthy professional persona.

Don’t neglect your social media presence

Since being a portrait photographer means working with the public and directly with clients even more so than other branches of professional photography, it’s important to brush up on your people skills in other areas as well. Your overall reputation and business card-like things, for instance. Brush up on your skills of amplifying your impact and image within social media hubs, work towards making the people who are satisfied with your work be more visible as well, while tagging you directly, and you’ll attract more potential customers than in any other way.

An easy portrait profit center

A Guest Article By Andrew Funderburg

High-end portrait sales are a great source of income for studios. But sometimes the big ticket items create sticker shock for the client.

Using Finao 3ditions (three albums exactly the same in a matching box) is a great way to bring profits into you studio. Watch this video with Fundy explaining a simple payment plan concept with three albums.

**(Prices in this video are for illustration purposes only. Make sure you price for your profitability.)

Seeing Through The Eyes Of A Fashion Photographer

What do you do if you love the fashion industry, love photography, and want to venture out on your own away from working underneath top designers? Start a blog of course.

If you’ve ever been to The Sartorialist, you’ve seen a photographer who knows how to capture the little details of our current fashion world. Scott Schuman spends his days walking and looking at his surroundings, trying to find the perfect image or two that speaks out to what today is all about. Watch this video to see how he looks for his subjects.

When you’re good at what you do, success follows. Not only does Scott have a well respected blog, he’s recognized throughout the world for his fashion sense. He’s featured in GQ, and his video is now a part of Intel’s new project, VisualLife.

Yep, anything is possible.

How To Take Great Portraits Without Showing A Face

Have you ever had a great idea that you can’t wait to try out on a client? You want to place a child just so, with a certain background, and achieve a certain result? Then the client yells out, “Look at the camera, smile, bigger smile, come on smile…” You get the drift. Nothing is more frustrating than having your idea sour because a parent wants her two year old child to pose and smile perfectly for the camera.

For me, there’s something innocent about a child that a smile simply ruins. A two year old has huge eyes that speak volumes – who needs a smile to see that? And if you truly want a two year old to smile, why not have them giggle as loud and as hard as they can. That’s a true two year old spirit!

And of course it doesn’t stop at the age of two. What about a teenager deep in thought while reading a book? Why have her look up – why not capture her doing what she loves the best?

Sometimes a photograph is so much more if you simply don’t capture the face. If you don’t focus on the eyes. And you don’t get that big smile. Sometimes a photograph is so much more if you capture the person’s soul, doing exactly what they want to do. What they have a passion for. That’s where you start separating from a picture taker, and dive into the world of photographic artistry.

Selling the Concept

People have a preconceived notion about photography. They expect the turn, look at the camera and say cheese idea because that’s what they’ve done ever since they were children. When they come to your studio, they expect the same thing because that’s what they are primed for. You may have better backdrops, better lighting, and take better photographs, but it still should have the subjects smiling at the camera, right?
[Read more…]

Photography With an Angle – How to get Inspired with your Photography #12

Photograph with a new angle. Take your digital camera out, put on your favorite telephoto or zoom lens and hit the streets. You only need to remember one thing for the inspiration, no straight shots. Each image need to be photographed with a tilt to it. As you look through the viewfinder, you will start to see a great amount of unique viewpoints. Photograph a person in a portrait format, but make sure that you have a tilt to the image. Put the subjects head into one of the corners and see what the angle does to it.  – Get Inspired Today!

Earn money today with you photography – Photography Money Club. Providing new ideas to your photography business and information on how to start a photography business. Stay up to date with our photography newsletter which provides tips on your photography studio.