He was a stranger that day. He just walked up to me and asked if I could take his picture. We were in Chinatown. It was my birthday. I was doing free portraits for my friends, or anyone who would show up in Chinatown. And I loved him instantly. He was so open, so willing. He trusted me before he even knew me. He used to live in Chinatown, he told me. This alley was familiar to him. He was comfortable and relaxed. A perfect subject for a portrait.
The perfect subject for a portrait is a person who wears their heart on their sleeve. A perfect subject for a portrait engages me as if I were an old friend. A perfect subject for a portrait is not afraid to get close, to be emotionally intimate. A perfect subject for a portrait feels totally comfortable in their own skin. You don’t have to be perfect but it’s helpful to be aware of these things. All you have to do is be yourself, the way you are with your family and friends. Treat me as a family member. Treat me as a friend.
I’ve said this before but your face is an invitation and your portrait (on social media, websites, bios etc.) is either going to beckon connection and interaction or it’s not. If we’re bothering to be here on these platforms at all then it’s interaction we’re after.
I always tell people, “Think of me as your client, your customer. Look at me the way you’d look at them.” The energy should flow from you to me. That way you have the ‘power’ in the dynamic.
That power dynamic is, I think, what intimidates some people about being photographed. A photographer is not an authority figure, though he/she is often looked at as one. What we do do is get close to you then show you what you look like now, in the moment, and that’s kind of powerful.
Not all of us are up for that. We age, we gain weight, our skin changes. Time does what it does. It’s easy to squint in the bathroom mirror but not at a photograph you just paid for. So before you get that portrait done, spend some time looking at yourself,...
Your profile photos say something about you. There’s the obvious, the physical part, and the not-so-obvious subtle energies and vibrations that reach out beyond the screen and make the impression.
This part is the real you, the you beyond form, and it derives from your heart. It’s the most important aspect of a photograph yet it’s unseen, and difficult to describe. Your beauty lies not in your hair, or your skin or in your bone structure. Your beauty is inside you.
In order to capture that you have to set an intention. You have to decide to reveal it. The right light, the right composition, and a sensitive photographer enhances this reveal, but it’s in your control.
Getting your photo taken is not like getting a massage. Something isn’t done to you. It’s more like a dance lesson. The photographer leads, but you have to take the steps. You have to want to dance. When there’s an unwillingness to dance, it shows.
I suggest approaching your next photograph this way. Even if the photographer is...
You’re getting your portrait done and maybe you dread the moment. You don’t like cameras and the whole concept sort of freaks you out. Does this describe you?
Or maybe it doesn’t freak you out but you’re a bit nervous and can use some guidance. How can you look and be your best? What can you do to ensure the best possible photos result from your session?
We’ll get to aesthetics in a moment but first I want to talk about your energy. Whatever you bring to the session in terms of your state of mind will show up in your photos. If you want to come across as self-assured and approachable, you have to embody that. Use whatever Jedi mind tricks you have to to tell yourself it’s going to be okay. Breathe. Photographers aren’t dentists. They won’t hurt you. Engage them in conversation. Get to know your photographer. Develop a rapport.
Regarding wardrobe, the single most important piece of advice I can give you is wear something you love yourself in. Whatever makes you feel great. Solid colors com...