10 Ways to Direct a Portrait Shoot like a Pro

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6. Use Visual rather than Verbal Cues

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” – Confucius

The quickest and most effective way to direct a person is by giving them visual rather than verbal cues.

Telling my clients how to stand with verbal cues would sound something like this

Stand with your feet adjacent to each other, weight on your back foot, hips side on, front toe to camera, right arm on hip, left arm in pocket, chest ¾ to camera , head slightly right…. No sorry my right. Now move your head left… sorry, I mean right. Now step left… sorry I mean right

Verbal cues become incredibly confusing and can really diminish rapport with your client. You become frustrated because your client keeps moving the wrong way and your client is confused, uptight and lacking in confidence.

I have found that visual cues are by far the best way to pose your clients.

I simply swap places with my client walk onto the set and go into the pose so they can see exactly what I’d like them to do.

Once your client is in the correct position continue to use visual cues to direct them.

Some examples of this would be;

Turn your face towards that tree” instead of “turn your face to the left

Move your face towards the window and move your eyes back to look into my camera” instead of “turn your face to the right and look at me

7. Praise and Encourage

Give positive feedback when your model is doing the right thing. It’s classic positive reinforcement but it works. Ignore the bad and praise the good.

Talking to your model will keep them relaxed so they don’t worry about what you’re thinking behind the camera (because that’s exactly what they’re worrying about).

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