4 + 3 tips to get an interesting portrait

Saturday October 15 was special. Ok, like any other day, but even that it was a little more special than some other days.

In first place, thousands of people occupied the streets of Barcelona (among other cities) and showed their disagreement with the current political situation. This is a really amazing topic, but there are already other (expert) bloggers on that topic writing about real democracy.

In second place, and this is the topic I’ll cover, on Saturday I started my Studio Portrait course at Pati Llimona. Out teacher started by giving us some initial tips on how to start making portraits: we can see a photo-session as a battle Model vs. Photographer. The model will try to show his/her usual “face-for-a-picture”, which is exactly what we don’t want to see. In this battle there’s only one winner  and not getting defeated implies following some tips:

  1. Try to make clear the objective for the session. It’s not easy. Specially at the beginning, not the model, neither the photographer are 100% sure about that. However, the photographer will need to define the goal and guide the model. As Séneca once said: “To the person who does not know where he wants to go there is no favorable wind.”
  2. Speak with the model to get more empathy before the session and make him / her relax. This will ease further communication.
  3. Talk with the model during the session to provoke the reaction you want. Several ways can be employed here:
    • Direct request: look here, look there, smile, move your head left, come closer, etc.
    • Induce a feeling: imagine you’re in this situation, how would you feel if…
    • Induce an action: by giving any accessory to play with (like a balloon for little kids) or asking to do anything (jump, dance, sing…) to distract the model and get some natural posing.
  4. Move around the model and look for the best point of view. Pick his/her attention when needed.

However try NOT to:

  1. Stay next to the model and just wait for something to happen. It will end with your and with the model’s patience and it will hardly provide the results are you looking for.
  2. Get stuck in one place and complain if you’re not getting the pictures you wanted.
  3. Steal someone else’s moment. If the model’s not posing for you, this will be reflected in the picture.

I leave a couple of pictures. The first one shows the model in an initial pose, and what’s more disappointing, she’s looking to another photographer. The second one shows something more than a face, it expresses a feeling, which is much more rich than simple posing.


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