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.

5 Posing Tips For The Perfect Beach Portrait

A while back I posted 7 Tips For Taking The Perfect Beach Portrait.

And while choosing the perfect location and the best time of day are important, there is one thing that matters even more.


Even with a great location, if your subjects are just standing there with no connection, you’ll never give your clients the “experience” that makes them want to invest in everything you capture.

1. Frame the image first, then drop your subjects in

The more you photograph, the more you can look at an area and pick out the perfect background. Set you camera up on a tripod and visualize what you want the scene to convey. Then drop your subjects into the perfect location. When you “see” it first, its easy to direct them in a pose. Have them kick the water with their toes. Or hold hands walking down the beach. This makes the portrait session quick, and keeps your clients motivated and happy.

2. Let your subjects connect on their own

Your subjects love each other, and will automatically connect with just a little direction. If they are an engaged couple, with just a little encouragement they will hug and kiss even without your nudge. And a family with young kids will automatically start having fun in the water and the sand. Just let them do what comes naturally. Not only will it look better to the camera, it will look equally pleasing in the final photograph – they will see it as a natural extension of who they are.

3. Repeat the posing

When your subjects are doing something right, tell them. “I love the way you are holding her hand.” or “Leaning in like that really makes this a WOW image.” will cause your subject to focus in on what they are doing, and they’ll remember how it feels. When you ask for a similar pose 10 minutes later, they will automatically repeat that feeling.

4. Add angles

If you’ve ever looked at a portrait where everyone in it is stiff as a board, you know how uncomfortable it can make you feel. People have lines and curves – accentuate it. Bend the arms and legs. Separate people just a bit and have them lean in. You’ll be amazed at the difference you see.

5. Get the best image you can the first time

One of the biggest problems with digital is the “spray and pray” method. You place a subject in an area, shoot dozens of images from all different angles, then head back into the studio to play with Photoshop to make it look good. That method takes away the creativity of creating the perfect photograph the first time around. See your image through the lens first, and use Photoshop later to enhance. You’ll see a big difference in your final photograph.

[None of these environmental beach images are enhanced through Photoshop – these are the original film image files directly from the shoot. ]