10 Ways to Direct a Portrait Shoot like a Pro

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3. “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde

Ditch the boring clichés, saying stuff like “make love to my camera” just sounds really creepy

Work with a language you are totally comfortable with. If you are softly spoken then this is how you should give direction. Trying to be someone else will just make directing awkward for you and your model.

4. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

As the photographer you should always be the first to arrive and the last to leave.

Always have your lighting, poses and location worked out in advance. Your model will already be feeling nervous and vulnerable. Subjecting them to lighting tests and your uncertainty is only going to make them feel worse.

5. YOU need to know how to Pose

Practice posing to learn which positions will flatter a body and which shapes looks good from different angles. Or be a model for another photographer and experience what it’s like to be directed by someone else.

Then explain the pose in different ways.

  1. Get in there and do the pose for them. Show them what you want.
  2. Explain it to them at the same time.
  3. Then get your model to do the pose before you start shooting.

This is not only the quickest and most effective way to get your sitter into the pose, it helps you develop a rapport. Once your model knows how nice the pose looks on you (and realizes they won’t look foolish), they will be much happier to do what you’re asking.

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