Talking To Your Portrait Subjects

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

As a young photographer I asked my mentor, Jay Perskie, what was the worst thing I could do during a photo session. My guess was going to be setting the camera on M-synch when using electronic flash (remember that?) or similar technical glitch but instead he said, “not talking to the people.” That’s because if you don’t talk to your subjects you’re never going to get a good expression from them.

The ESP concept—“Expression Sells Portraits”—says that a subject’s expression tells the story of who they are. If the subject only has one look on their face, their portfolio or your presentation of images will look monotonous. And if they don’t like the expression? No sales.

ESP2 Tip: Be sure to look at both sides of the subject’s face. Most people have one side of their face that photographs better than the other side but don’t let that stop you from posing them one way or another.

The image at right was the seventh in a sequence of ten images made (of this pose) with the subject and I tried several variations and preferred this image as my choice but you (or she) might like one of the others better. The portrait was shot with a Panasonic Lumix GH4 and Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lens with an exposure of 1/100 sec at f/8 and ISO 200.

The lighting set-up was one Alien Bee B800 Purple Haze monolight placed at camera right. An Omni reflector is mounted with the bundled diffusion sock stretched over the reflector. A second monolight, set at full power, was directed at Sarah and is at camera left. Backdrop was a Savage Infinity black vinyl background.