Portrait photography requires a level of trust, intimacy and spontaneity that other types of photography work simply do not. Your subject can often also be less than comfortable with one of these elements, so as a photographer, it’s important to have a failsafe routine in place that you know is going to produce great results, whether you know the subject or not.
First of all, it’s always worth having a conversation beforehand. Have some specifics in mind when speaking to the subject, such as what they hope to get out of the experience and how they want the end result to look. Try to keep subjects away from talking about physical aspects of the photo and more to the feeling they want to capture. It’s also essential to ascertain anything they would never be comfortable with doing before you start shooting, as often subjects can feel coerced into something once behind the lens, or lose a sense of the rules they had set for themselves at the start of the process. When all of this has been established, just chat. People tend to forget how important simple conversation can be in workplace situations, and as the person that holds the camera, you can often hold an intimidating ‘authority’ without even realising it. Reveal things about yourself and what you would like from the day – this will give you and the subject a fair and easy exchange. It’s true that time is money, but a friendly chinwag shouldn’t take you too long and will help save you time in the long run, as you should start off with much better shots from the get go.