Some people are really uncomfortable in front of the camera—they aren't sure what they're supposed to do, and they're afraid they'll look bad. This can result in stiff, unnatural looking photographs. It's your job as the photographer to help your subjects feel comfortable and relax. You can do this by talking, interacting, giving them direction and encouragement. When you are photographing people, you are in a relationship, whether it lasts for a few minutes, a few hours, or a lifetime. Following are five tips that can help you direct your subject and capture natural-looking portraits.

Tip 1
Have your subjects make a three-quarter turn to camera and shift their weight to the back leg. This position gives the body shape, dimension and makes them look slimmer.

Tip 2
Create a sense of movement in your photograph. Direct your subjects to shift their weight back and forth from one foot to the other.

Tip 3
Most people are uncomfortable in front of the camera. Help them out by giving them direction. Tell them they look great, give them feedback and interact. The positive energy will show in your photographs.

Tip 4
A real expression is always better than a fake one. To alleviate a frozen, unnatural smile, try my Pufferfish technique for relaxing your subjects face. Do it together! Puff out your cheeks, hold, then blow it out. This exercise relaxes your face, and the goofy look is enough to make anyone laugh.

Tip 5
Portraits are traditionally shot a few degrees above your subjects eyeline, but shoot from all different angles too. Mix it up and experiment!

Portrait and Candid Photography: Photo Workshop
Erin Manning

The secret to taking great people pictures is to observe your subjects, connect with them, and use your camera to its best advantage. Heres how to work with lighting, location, angle, composition, physical characteristics, environment, and countless other variables, including the unique challenges of photographing babies, group activities, and action. Learn to capture facial expressions, tell a story with a series of candids, add interest to large-group shots, and more. Apply these techniques and watch your subjects come to life.

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