Tips to Capture Real Personality in Portrait Photography

The secret of an incredible portrait is the enhanced personality of the subject in it. And to Make subject’s personality pop in the pictures, you need real facial expressions, natural poses, and genuine laughter. To achieve this, the person in front of the camera should be calm and cool and then it depends how you direct the photo shoot and capture their features.

Just telling someone where they should sit or stand makes a photo look posed, unnatural, and uninteresting. It’s very important to break the ice beforehand to ensure you are not shooting a robot. Usually just talking with your subject constantly and engaging them will make them feel comfortable. Here are few tips for creating a compelling portrait and capturing the real personality of the subject.

Get Them Laughing

The most liked portraits are always the ones with genuine laughter. And making people laugh is an art in itself. Do some research on your subject before the photo shoot. Their culture, background, family would give you an idea of their interests and the kind of jokes that can bring out genuine laughter.

Here are some of the tips I use. Ask the subject to give a big fake laugh, if it’s a group shot fake laughs would make everyone lol. Or you can ask them to copy their favorite actor. You can also share something funny that happened in your life recently.

You’ll find that you can usually get a subject laughing by asking them to do a pose. The joke that the photos will be used in an advert and that it’s their trial for a modeling job. This should strike up some candid laughter and that’s just what you’re looking for, so capture the photos while they’re laughing.

These are the few ways that would ease the nerves and start building your own relationship with the subject.

Natural Movement

Move your subject in the frame to take more candid and natural shots. You can give your subject a prompt to move their arms in a circle, spin around, or get them to walk around as you take photos. This allows you to take the candid shots that show natural and real movement. It also helps to make the subject more relaxed in front of you and the camera. On top of it, they would also start to enjoy the shoot.

The above photos of children photoshoot by NPM is an excellent example of engaging a child with the adult before taking the picture. The shots are very natural and candid.

Learn About Body Language

It’s vital that you understand your subject’s personality even when taking headshots. If the subject is generally preppy and poised, then it would be a bad idea to take grungy photos where they’re hunched over. You can make your photos talk if the pose and subject’s personality are correctly synced.

Learn about body language, especially what different poses say. If someone was to cross their arms and have their chin bolstered up, for example, it gives off an image of power. Having loosely crossed arms and visible hands, on the other hand, makes someone appear relaxed. These are small nuances that add some life to a portrait.

Find the Best Angles of your Subject

It’s up to a photographer to discover which angles do – and don’t – work for their subject. People can be made to look slim and curvy based on how they have positioned their body. If you want to make your subject appear curvier then make them stand sideways with away arm on their back. Bend their knees, put weight on the back leg and push the hips out. Try this and it will give your subject a flattering slim and curvy look.

In headshots, right chin definition plays a key role in any age or gender. Finding the right defined angle creates definition and shadows. While it might feel weird for a subject, having them stick out their neck or push it forward dramatically changes their picture and makes it look so much better. You need to really educate your subject on how to protrude their neck forward and tilt the chin sideways several times until you get the right shot. This is one of the toughest parts if the subject is pretty much new to the headshot photo shoot. But this exercise will prepare them for any future shoots as well.

Don’t forget about your own angle when taking pictures. You can lie down to shoot up, stand on a chair to shoot down or bend at your waist if you are dealing with a shorter subject. A great photographer is able to move around and find the right shot.

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