5 tips to take photos of your non-model friends
1. Start easy
Jairo doesn’t have much experience with being in front of the camera and just as for many people, a camera is quite a scary and confronting thing. So you need to be able to make them feel comfortable. Start with atmosphere; ask them what kind of music they like and have a small conversation about what they like, what they do etc. The more they feel comfortable in the beginning, the more they will loosen up along the way. The most important thing is to start with an easy pose. Make them look away from the camera, so the first photo is not a direct ‘threat’. From a technical point of view, make them look towards the light source (in my case; the sun).
2. Use their talent
Everybody has something they can do better than you. In Jairo’s case, he can do capoeira moves with a relaxed face, which is impressive. You can even ask what the person’s talent is in pre-production, so you can buy some props that would go well with this talent. For example; I love Flamenco, so I could buy a bunch of red roses to put in my hair to complete the style. Also, you don’t always need to use their talent literally. If someone is very good at speed reading, you don’t need to make them read a book, but they can be surrounded by an uncountable amount of books in the middle of nowhere to create a scene that they would feel comfortable in.
3. Use props
Sometimes it’s nice to hold something to feel safe. With Jairo, I used a chair which he could lean on, which made him feel more relaxed because sitting feels very natural for people. Standing is more confronting than sitting. You can also use a hat, an umbrella, sunglasses or whatever type of prop you can use creatively.
4. Give them an easy task
People like easy and clear directions. I asked Jairo to pretend he was kicking a ball and then you just wait for the right moment to take the shot. Sometimes people start laughing, sometimes they are so focused on ‘kicking the bal’, whatever they do, it will make it all much more natural. Go with their flow, keep it simple and clear so they don’t need to think about what to do. You think for them!
5. Make them look for just two seconds
For this photo I asked Jairo to look up at the sky first. Then I said “Keep your chin up, and now look into the camera”. It’s all about a few seconds. You just need them to look for a few seconds to take a good shot.
Also make sure you don’t reverse the sentence in “look into the camera, but keep your chin up.” Some people will wait until you have finished your sentence, but most of the people immediately do what you say, so they look down but the chin will follow. This means you have to tell them to start over. This can add to insecurities. If you use clear directions, they will listen the way you want them to listen.