Saturday, June 13, 2015

Clicking (with) Your Subjects

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It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter. ~Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Beyond the technical and creative stuff, one of the surest ways of snapping great images of your subjects, whether they're models or most anyone else, is to work as hard (or harder) at clicking with them as you work at all the other stuff prior to and while you're clicking the shutter. The other stuff is important, for sure, but it often takes a rear seat to things like trust, rapport, and the interactions you engage in with your models.

Clicking with the people in front of your camera often trumps lighting, exposure, decisive moments, location, wardrobe, composition and more. Certainly, it's nearly always of equal importance.

While all the technical and creative concerns remain very important, and I'm definitely not saying they should be neglected, clicking with your subjects and working to create trust, i.e., trust in you as well as in your skills and abilities, should  be a paramount part of your job as a glamour photographer or portrait shooter of most any kind. Working hard at that trust thing almost always yields better photos

Can you click a great photo without clicking with the model? Sure. Is it as likely to happen as when you and the model are clicking? Probably not. Are you always counting on luck or a model's abilities to make your photos terrific?  Good luck with that.

Richard Avedon -- you may have heard of him -- once said, "A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows they're being photographed."

Well duh!

But while that seems, on the surface, an overly simple and obvious observation, it remains a very revealing observation. Or, it should be if you're a glamour or portrait shooter of most any kind. And guess whose job it is to help those in front of the camera forget, to the extent they're able, that they're being photographed? That would be you, of course: The photographer.

How do models forget they're having their pictures snapped?

There's no single, clear-cut way of doing that but it begins with (and relies heavily upon) trusting you, the photographer. It's also a matter of them getting into a role or character, or arriving at that place where letting their guards down is rather simple. As you might already be aware,  models letting their guards down usually involves a level of trust and confidence in the person photographing them.

It takes a fair amount of trust for many people to let down their guards in a photo session, even when they're experienced models. Doing so requires them to momentarily forget their insecurities; perhaps even forgetting they're being photographed and, instead, getting into a "flow" while in front of a camera. Generally, it's in that flow, that groove, that place where they momentarily develop amnesia about what they're doing at the moment -- being photographed, that is -- while disregarding who they normally are and losing their inhibitions. In other words, becoming less aware they're being photographed. Helping models get to that place isn't 100% on you as the photographer, but a big chunk of it is.

Yep. As  famed photographer Alfred Eisenstaed once said: "It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.”

You can take that simple-yet-valuable advice to the bank.

The pretty girl at the top is Alexa Lynn, snapped at a studio. Three lights: 5' Photoflex Octo in front, nearly on axis but slightly camera-right,  plus a couple of strip boxes, either side, from slightly behind. So simple even a caveman could do it. (I've been accused of being Neanderthal-ish on a few occasions.)


Kenneth Ingham said...

This is also probably why it takes 15--45 minutes for the model and photographer to click and start working well together. I have noticed that the photos get noticeably better after we have worked together for a few minutes. This is even true for models with whom I have worked previously.

jimmyd said...

Kenneth: 100% agree. It's not just the model getting into her "groove" but model and shooter getting into it together. There's a synergy that often develops. Sometimes, it's almost tangible when that point arrives. It's certainly always noticeable by the pics.