6 Tips to Getting Your Subjects to Relax in Photos

When we see professional pictures of people and families, often the subjects look relaxed, happy and natural. While portraits are often forced, “lifestyle photography” should look as if you just snapped a picture of someone being their beautiful selves when nobody was watching. This is an art because most people when put in front of a camera get nervous and tense, and it is your job as a photographer to help them relax so their true colors can shine. I’d like to share my tips for making this easy and fun!

1. Talk the entire time.

By talking to your subjects, you can help them take their mind off the fact that they are being photographed. When their mind isn’t focused on the camera, you will see them and be able to photograph them in a more natural state. If you are having a hard time with this, try asking them questions about themselves and about things that make them happy so there are smiling.

2. Show them how you want them to pose.

As photographers, we often tell people how we want them to pose, but nothing is better than showing them. If you want them to twirl their hair or look a certain way, show them. Often, posing feels silly, so do the silly poses yourself and make fun of yourself. We all hate posing but love how the poses look in photos. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun! A glass of wine beforehand may help do the trick.

3. Talk to them about their ideas.

Often, your subjects will have photo ideas before the shoot. Talk to them about their ideas, let them show you, and see what you come up with! Give them positive feedback and if you can tweak their pose a little bit then let them know in a kind way.

4. Look at the photos and tell them they are doing great.

We are all self-conscious and feel silly when posing for photos, so it is nice for some reassurance that we are doing okay. Telling someone they look great in a particular pose will often help them relax and feel more confident.

5. Have a few props on hand.

Some subjects are not comfortable simply standing still, walking or sitting, but feel better when they have a prop. You can use chairs, flowers, something for them to lean on, you get the idea. In addition to props, you can give them something do to whether it is real or imaginary.

6. Offer your adult subject a glass of wine or a beer.

I’m not kidding! Even my photography school teacher slipped this little piece of advice! Depending where you are, this works like a charm and can help your subject feel more relaxed. I already mentioned it above, but that’s because it works! Taking photos should be a fun experience and not a stressful one.

I hope some of these tips help. Feel free to share your tips below and maybe I can learn something new!

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