How to get natural looking photos?

How to feel comfortable during your photo sessions? 

Many of us feel very uneasy in front of the camera (big secret: photographers do too!). Our body translates what we feel into unnatural smile and stiff muscles resulting in somewhat weird photos. 

If you are not a professional model, natural and beautiful photos usually require 2 elements: 

☑ Being comfortable with the person/photographer

☑ Being comfortable in front of the camera

To trust and to feel comfortable with photographer is not always the same type of "comfortable" feeling we experience with our friends.  People often feel that they are not photogenic because they don't see some parts of their personalities in the photos that they would like to see. Photographer-model team becomes successful when photographer understands what exactly the person is looking for. If the photo session is for your business page, we need to deliver confident look. If it is a family photo, we want to show kindness and connection between people. Do you feel the difference? Sometimes clients don't know exactly what they want. They want "cool photos" but it is hard for them to expand on "cool" element. That is when it is essential to have a photographer who is willing to put as much time and effort into your work as needed to understand those nuances. It would be also helpful if you could think about it ahead of time and come up with a few messages that you would like to be told through the photos (for example "I want to appear as leader. I want people feel like they can trust me.")  

The second part is how to be comfortable in front of the camera. First of all, it is about your experience. You need to establish similar relationship with this part of technology as you have with its owner :) The best way is to just start taking pictures. Initially it feels awkward but, as time passes by, it would feel more and more natural. It is great if photographer can speak casually with you during the photo session, make jokes and give you some unobtrusive suggestions. I usually do it by first mimicking model's current pose (without stopping our casual conversation) and then slowly move into a different, desired pose. Our brain is amazing and often a person changes his/her pose without even realizing that they have done so.

Another technique I recommend for my clients as homework prep.  First you need to find a few photos of other people that you like. Then pay close attention to their pose and copy it entirely: hands and arms position, head tilt, distance between feet. The secret to understand how another person feels is not just about getting into her/his shoes but into his/her body. When you copy the pose exactly, you feel similar to what that person was feeling and translating through the photo. Do this exercise at least 5-10 times before the photo session. Pay attention to your feelings, how you just got a bit taller, a bit stronger and a bit more confident. When you get to photo session, you will be able to repeat not just the pose itself but the feelings as well! 

Does it help a bit? Do you feel more confident that photo session can be a pleasure time?