Get to Know Your Subject

One of the biggest suggestions I can give you as a photographer when shooting portrait and fashion images is to get to know your subjects. When you meet them, figure out their interests and who they are. What are they passionate about in life? Ask about their children, the college they're attending, or their hobbies. Allow this casual conversation to reveal what drives your subjects. I use this information to help me get the facial expressions I need to achieve a certain visual effect.

For example, if in my conversation I find out that someone is an animal lover, I tell them to think about puppies or their favorite pet to help get a jovial expression. Similarly, if I am trying to achieve a forlorn expression, I ask them to act as though their pet ran away. I'm toying with their emotions to convey a particular mood or emotion within my image.

Another important reason to get to know your subject is that it gives you a way to make downtime more comfortable. For example, when I'm rearranging lighting or we are moving to a new location, I ask my subjects to talk about themselves. If you don't take the time to get to know your subject, the room will be silent and uncomfortable. I keep spirits up and the momentum of the shoot going by allowing the subjects to share their passions. Furthermore, as any good businessperson will tell you, people love to talk about themselves, and one way to get people to show interest in you is for you to show a sincere interest in them.

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