I sometimes get the remark that my models don’t smile enough. As a reaction I created a Facebook Album with all model laughs I captured in the last 18 months. You cannot prevent smiling yourself by looking at them.
We have the natural reaction of making someone smile at us when we want to take a picture. It might be good to look at, but it is not at all natural behavior to have a smile on your face trough the day. (except when you are madly in love, maybe)
It is more of a challenge to have people look natural in their portraits.
Here are two tips that might help you get a natural looking portrait.
1. Make them interact with themselves, not with you.
Make yourself invisible to them, make them forget about you, make them think of something else. One great way to do that is having your model look at herself in a mirror. They might feel a little uncomfortable at first, but I noticed that most of my models are very well able to look at themselves in the mirror without any problems. You can still give them instructions, but they are no longer directly facing a stranger with a big camera in front of him, they are facing themselves, and that is a lot more familiar. In looking at herself, she will also create a mood of intimacy and comfort as a bonus.
2. Make them connect to themselves, not to you.
This might look similar to 1, but it is different after all.
When you see that your model is having difficulties looking into a camera neutrally without turning into a grin face in an attempt to prevent from laughing, it might be a good idea to try this:
Have her keep her eyes closed for some seconds, and then look at you. The time taken will allow her not to connect to the outer world, (unlike the mirror, where she still connects to her body/face/how she looks) but to her inner thoughts and soul. This will quickly make all facial expressions fade away, giving you the perfect neutral face, neutral or natural, whatever you prefer.
Try it, it’ll work.
Images are from my session with Kim, she never posed before, we worked for about 2 and a half hours in The Mansion and this resulted in many great pictures of her. You can click on the images to see a bigger version.
thank you for reading.