First a disclaimer: Photography is an art form – and art is entirely subjective. So what I find beautiful, you may find utterly awful, so take anything I say with a grain of salt, use what works for you!
Right, so on to the answers to lifes most difficult and stretching questions. My first tidbit addresses what most people do wrong, before they even press the shutter. You want to take Sally’s photo, so you put Sally somewhere in front of the camera and order her to “smile!” in your singsongy voice. People don’t know how to smile, unless Sally is a trained model, you’re going to get a photo that may look something like this:
Some people are better at it than others, but generally, people are mortified in front of your camera and will give you a quick forced smile to get you out of their face. The sides of the mouth may be forced upwards, but in their eyes you’ll see anything but a real smile. Often this will be the only photo someone will take, and poor Sally will have that photo in the family album for years to come. No doubt, even though she’s cute as a button, she will think she’s unphotogenic. We must stop saying smile, stop it today! Most people can smile on cue as easily as they can cry on cue, it’s just not natural.
So that leaves us with a problem, how do I get someone to look good? I get comments all the time of how people love my candid photos, why? Because they’re real. We must work a little harder to let our subjects be themselves in front of the camera, give them time and stalk them if you must (in the nicest way possible.)
Watch people, because everyone has a beautiful side (wow, are they song lyrics?) It’s true though. Give your subject the freedom to be themselves, they’ll love you for it!
This photo was taken in an unguarded moment, same kid but I think it’s much much nicer. Of course there are other things that make it better as well, which I will explain as time goes on. But for now, this is your project – go take photos of someone without asking them to smile or say cheese! Go on, I know you can do it!
And yes, I realise that sometimes you simply have to do the ‘sit and force a pose’ photo, for whatever reason, just try and limit these times 🙂