The Authentic Portraiture Toolkit for Photographers || Capture the Real Person | Lucy Lambriex | Skillshare

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The Authentic Portraiture Toolkit for Photographers || Capture the Real Person

teacher avatar Lucy Lambriex, Creative Confidence & Camera Courage

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      The Authentic Portraiture Toolkit


    • 2.

      About Your Project


    • 3.

      What is Authenticity?


    • 4.



    • 5.

      Trust and Surrender


    • 6.

      An Important Discovery


    • 7.

      Evoking versus Acting


    • 8.

      (E)Motion and Aliveness


    • 9.

      Dynamic Posing


    • 10.

      A Distraction


    • 11.

      If All Else Fails


    • 12.



    • 13.



    • 14.

      Raw Edges


    • 15.

      Sitting, Standing...


    • 16.

      Simpler Gear


    • 17.

      "What Should I Wear?"


    • 18.

      My Mistakes


    • 19.

      Cherry on Your Project


    • 20.

      Last Trick & Bloopers


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About This Class

Are you done with fake smiles and awkward poses in your portraits? In this class you’ll learn to look and go beyond the surface of your subjects (and yourself!) and portray who they really are.

You’ll learn to build rapport and capture their inner beauty in authentic portraits. I’ll teach you several ways to invite your subject (paying client or model) to reveal themselves as they are so you can capture their aliveness. My methods even work with camera shy people. No more fixed poses or vacant looks. No more stifling discomfort. No more uninteresting, superficial portraits. 

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Skills, Tips & Tricks from 12 Years of Experience

I’ll share with you my personal toolkit. All that I’ve learned and acquired over more than 12 years of working with hundreds of people. I’ll share my client briefing and clothing tips. And many different ways to approach and work together with your subject. There is a bonus download with a checklist that you can print before shooting.

Who is This Class For? 

This class is for professionals and aspiring photographers, hungry to go deeper than just a technically correct pretty picture. Who want to make their portraits speak more and be more relatable. 

Like: professional still life or landscape photographers aspiring to start working with people. Perhaps you’ve tried it, but can’t seem to build rapport with your clients or models? Do you or they feel awkward? Join me.

The class is also for beginning photographers, who wish to portray their friends and family for fun or even start a stock photography portfolio, using regular people as their subjects. 

Authenticity is Key. Why Learn to Capture it? 

In a world with dozens or even hundreds of images on our retina per minute, we decide quickly who to trust, who to work with and which images to buy for our business’ communication. 

As humans, we are trained to recognize what is real and what is fake. And usually we don’t like fake people. 

Therefore, in our portraits, we seek to catch a person’s realness, so others can relate to what they see and trust them (your brand etc.). 

If you can master authentic portraiture, you will make many people very happy: not only your subjects, but also the viewer and if applicable, the buyer of your work. Even for you, it will become so much more interesting and you’ll find that you can use the skills also in other areas of your life.

So Join Me!

After taking this class and doing the project exercises, you will be able to apply the skills in your own photography. 

  • You will feel a lot more confident working with people. 
  • Your photos will be more real, more personal and simply better, because you will have learned to truly work together with your subject, rather than telling them what to do.

See You in Class!

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Meet Your Teacher

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Lucy Lambriex

Creative Confidence & Camera Courage

Top Teacher

All-Round Creatives Unite!

Hello! As an all-round creative maker I know how you can get stuck in the middle of a project. Or at the start. If you ever find yourself stuck creatively, I can help you get back on track. My classes focus not only on the end result of your creations, but also delve into the inner processes, personal awareness, and growth. Using photography, journaling, Procreate, paint, thread and other materials, you'll rediscover your creativity and gain valuable insights about yourself along the way.

I'm Lucy Lambriex (she/her), based in Amsterdam, and I design classes for creative professionals and professional creatives. These classes provide a pathway out of creative block and anxiety, leading to gr... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. The Authentic Portraiture Toolkit: Hi. Would you like to get rid of awkward poses and fake smiles in your portraits, and instead learn to connect with your subject and bring out the real person? I'll be sharing my personal toolkit that will help you and your subject become so comfortable, they will let you capture them beyond the surface. This even works with camera-shy people. This is not a technical class, but it's all about the personal stuff. This class is for professionals and aspiring photographers, hungry to go deeper than just the technically correct, pretty picture. I'm Lucy Lambriex. I live in Amsterdam with my partner and two cats. I make a living with authentic portraiture and realistic stock photography, and I've been a photographer all my life. My mother taught me the basics when I was a child using this camera. My first classes were for people in front of the camera. This time I'm standing next to the photographer. You can benefit from this class if you are a professional still-life or landscape photographer who wants to start working with people. Perhaps you've tried it, but to you or your subject feel uncomfortable, do your models look unnatural? I'll help you on your new path. It's also for you if you are beginning photographer who wants to stop taking awkward family pictures. Or if you want to start a stock photography portfolio, all you need for this class is a camera or a smartphone and one person to practice with. The exercises throughout this class will help you practice taking authentic portraits using my methods all leading up to your final assignment, taking two portraits expressing different qualities of your subject. After taking this class, you'll feel more confident connecting with people and portraying them. You'll know how to take authentic portraits that will make your clients and models happy. You can apply my personal tips and tricks and learn from my mistakes, and make some of your own. I've also created a whole bunch of helpful documents for you that you can use for planning shoots and briefing clients. I'm here for you to help you learn how to take authentic portraits and practice this in your project. Are you ready? Let's dive in. 2. About Your Project: Throughout the class, I'll be giving you some exercises. It will not just be theory and words that I throw at you, you'll be putting it into practice right away. The project is your learning space that will grow fatter as you go. You can scribble your thoughts and share your results with us and we'll cheer you on. To do the assignments, you'll need a smart phone or a camera and at least one other person to practice with. I strongly recommend doing the exercises because while taking this class and doing the exercises, you'll be getting more experience under your belt, so it won't feel daunting or difficult with your real clients or models anymore. You can track your improvements and growth, you can learn from my feedback and that of your classmates and grow even faster. At the end of this class, ideally, your project page will look something like this. You can find your page here, and I'll give you a quick tour and some tips on how to edit it. An important part of your project page is the cover image. It will show up on the project section of this class, but also on the rest of Skillshare among the other projects. It's a great way of showcasing your work. You can update it with each new assignment, so others will know you've made new work. At the end of this class you can use your favorite portrait as your cover image. You can change the formatting by selecting a word like so, or you can add a link to your own website, for instance. To add an image, put your cursor where you want the photo to show up, then scroll down and click this image icon and browse your computer. It may take a little while to load. You can change the size by pulling one of the corners, and you can also choose how you want it to align, like so. Don't forget to hit Publish. I look forward to seeing your project come to life. Please visit other people's projects too and give them constructive feedback. It's that type of encouragement that will help us all grow. In the next video, let's look at what authenticity is and why it's crucial to make your portrait speak. 3. What is Authenticity?: This is also why lying is so important, so difficult. So what is authenticity? What will happen if the people in our portraits don't feel real? How can authenticity make our portraits better? That's what we'll talk about in this lesson. Authenticity is the quality of being genuine or real, of being true and honest and showing one's whole self and no covering up of unwanted bits. In our work, we can evoke real emotions as well, and I'll be sharing tools and how to use them in many of the following lessons. For this photo, I asked one of the ladies to tell a joke. It was so bad we all peed our pants. It is my most successful photo and has been used all over the world. What happens if a photo is not authentic? I often get an unpleasant feeling when looking at posed portraits, especially when they have staged women like objects, with the lighting all perfect, but with no character and no personality at all. I'm not sharing any examples here because I know that you probably know what I'm talking about. When we see a person giving a fake smile or feigning confidence, instantly we know something is off. We don't trust that person and we don't like them. We feel a disconnect and we want to leave. It's actually part of our primordial survival skills that we have in place to know if somebody can be trusted and is good for us or not. The reason we want our portraits to be authentic is that the viewer will instantly know and feel subconsciously that a pose or smile is not real. This has a lot to do with the micro-expressions in our face that we will recognize even if we don't know a person. This is also why lying is so difficult. We cannot control the dozens of facial muscles, but there's more. Our eyes can't lie either. They show what's really going on inside a person, so cheap stock photography and superficial portraits are not good to use in your communication, and an even worse idea to make. Whereas an authentic portrait will lure us in, it will intrigue us and we are more likely to trust and follow that person and their message. So if you connect with your subject and you bring out the real person and capture them, the viewer will connect with them too. The people you've portrayed will be so happy and the viewers and clients will love what you do. In the next lesson, let's look at how to prepare for a successful photoshoot or a photo session. 4. Preparing: In this lesson, we'll talk about how to prepare but not over-prepare, the importance of surprises, and I'll explain the difference between a photo session with a paying client and the shoot with models. In a shoot, you express your idea via the model, professional or not. Ideally, the model expands your idea, so it gets better and more real. Try to find out a little about their hobbies and home situation, because it's really nice to talk about it in between shooting with them. In a photo session, you try to capture the client as they are. You try to evoke certain qualities they want to show in their photos, like fun to be with, trustworthy, expert, friendly, etc. Google them, visit their website, talk to them, find out what they would like from their portraits, try and find common interests. You work together with them to bring out their authentic self. You cannot do it alone, but you'll find that they think you can. I've had several clients who were not easy to capture that kept telling me, "You are the photographer, you have to do it, you have to take good photos of me". But I cannot take photos of them if they don't open up. It's important you let them know beforehand what you expect from them. In order to work well and pleasantly, I've been sending my future clients and even models, a briefing where I explain what I expect from them, how I will do it, and what they can expect from me. It's a time-saver and a lifesaver. In order to have a successful shoot or session, you have to manage the expectations. Everyone has expectations based on their experience or lack thereof, it's your task to manage them and it will help you a lot. Tell them, what will it be like with you, how long will you be with them, what will you do, what will they have to do. It states what they can expect and what they need to bring, for instance, at least two different outfits, but preferably more. I reassure them I'll be spending enough time with them, and I'll be taking a lot of photos, so they can relax. I also tell them it's okay if they cannot fully relax. This takes away a lot of pressure for both the subject and you. Under resources, you can find an example document to send to your subject beforehand, tweak it for each person so they know you've already paid attention to who they are. It's little things like this that make all the difference. I hope it was helpful to learn about how to prepare yourself and your subject. But there's one thing I keep repeating, and it is, it never goes as planned. You have to be open for surprises and be resourceful and creative. Next up, why and how to create a safe space for you and your subject. 5. Trust and Surrender: I will now cover how to create an environment where both you and subject can be open and relaxed and real, both practically and on a more personal level. What circumstances are helpful to be who we really are? First, we have the practical bit. We must make our subject, who is in fact our guests, feel welcome. Everything we do must help this. We send the written briefing from the previous lesson, our final welcome email with the directions and the time, the freshly ground coffee with a best chocolates and fresh grapes, the hangers and lint roller for their clothes. There's the personal aspect of how we connect with one another. Be truly interested. Listen to them, ask questions, sit down together with that coffee and chocolates. To make a connection, you can start by sharing a little bit about yourself, not your resume, of course, but start a little bit closer to home. About your morning or about the little shop you got the chocolates or coffee from, or something more personal. I'll give an example story in a minute. Then start by asking a few questions and make them feel heard. Don't talk about yourself then. Don't say things like, "Oh, I know this, I've been there, I also know a hockey player." Don't do that unless they ask you a question, talk about them now. Just go deeper into what they're telling you and get to know them a bit better. If they say, "I like your portfolio" Try and find out which photos in particular they like and why. The briefing and their answers are a wonderful talking piece too, of course. You can let them know you've read it well and want to ask some more questions about them. Like, supposed you put your portrait on your website, in your dating profile on LinkedIn, what kind of people will be attracted by you? This gives you a lot of information about how they see themselves and what they hope for. Questions like that open up a whole space for a good conversation. If it starts to feel a bit heavy, you can also ask lighter questions, like how they feel about your pet being present or something else that is present there in the moment. Any topic makes it possible to start a good conversation and to get to know them better, show them you're interested. Having this landing moment and conversation together is a great starting point for connecting and creating a rapport. Your own state of mind and attitude are super important. We need to be relaxed and open. You must be really yourself and don't hide or cover up, and thus be a little vulnerable. This is important for both you, the photographer, and the subject. Don't dump your problems with them, of course. But if you're still a bit distracted because of something that happened in the morning or in your life, it's safe to share, not the details, just that something is on your mind. Tell them you only need a minute so you can be there for them. It will help you let go of some tension and we'll show them they can be open too. If this sounds a little bit like therapy, well, sometimes it comes pretty close. I once had a session with a client and when she entered, I was a bit emotional and not very stable because of something that was happening in my life. I actually started crying when she asked if I was okay and I told her I wasn't, but would soon be there for her. She said she was relieved because she was going through something herself, and she shed a tear too. Then we looked at each other and we both laughed our heads off. It was so ridiculous. After that, all the tension was gone and we had a beautiful session. It isn't always about crying, but it could be anger or just distraction. Share just a little bit, share that it's going on, and then you feel free. In my example, this was with someone I knew. I felt quite okay with crying. But you don't have to cry. You don't have to go into details, just tell them you need a moment. Be vulnerable, be real yourself, listen to your subject, and share. After connecting with them and making them feel safe, ask them to surrender to your methods, and assignments, and direction. I'll be teaching all of that in this class. Surrendering doesn't mean becoming docile. Make sure you tell them that. They must stay connected to their own energy and creativity. If they can, they will add a lot to your images. You must work with them. Don't be their boss. We've covered the how and why of a safe space, both practically and personally. In the next lesson, you'll be putting it into practice and I'll share a discovery that set me free. 6. An Important Discovery: I strongly recommend doing the exercises. In this lesson, you'll be getting your first assignment and I'll share my biggest discovery that gave me freedom and more confidence in my work. When I first started working with paying customers, about 12, 13 years ago, I could become quite nervous. I was very tense and I put a lot of pressure on myself to do everything right. But of course the opposite happened. I was so nervous and tense, and clients could sense that too. After a while I wondered, what would happen if I messed up completely? What would the worst thing be? This changed everything for me. I couldn't come up with anything worse than I was already doing to myself. From then on, I allowed myself for it to be a totaled catastrophe, and of course it's seldom is. If you are working with a client and it's not going so well, allow yourself to stop and tell them they can get a refund or better, a rain check, and perhaps something changes in that moment or not, and you do it the next time. By the way, this is one of the reasons I don't like doing weddings, because there this approach is not really appreciated. You don't want to miss the ring and and the case. Now let me share with you a personal story of what felt like a failure at first, but finally was quite successful business-wise and personally. I had a client, and he booked a short session. Normally, those are not suitable for people with camera-shyness, and he appeared to be very camera-shy. I was working with him and I was trying hard to get him out there, and it was not a success. Results were quite horrible and the whole process was not so nice. Afterwards we talked about it, and he admitted he was actually very afraid of the camera, and I told him I shouldn't have worked him so hard and so long. We met again for another longer session and it was very beautiful. He surrendered. He was very playful and creative. The results were beautiful. He has returned a few times, and he's brought on new clients. You understand, I've come to embrace failure. Now it's time for your first photo session of this class. Invite a friend or partner with little or no experience with photography for a photo session with you. Tell yourself and the other that it's okay to make mistakes, and it's even allowed to be a total fiasco. Apply everything you've learned in this lesson and the previous lessons to create a safe and welcoming environment, practically as well as personally. Share two results and share the account of how this went in your project. What did you learn? Was there anything that surprised you? What will you do differently next time? In the next lesson, we'll talk about, why you don't want your subjects to act, and what you can do instead to invite certain qualities and moods in your portraits. 7. Evoking versus Acting: This class is all about getting the real person out there and you capturing them in a portrait. In this lesson, I'll explain why evoking and embodiment are different from acting and how to do it. Authenticity is not a state, it flows and changes all the time. We can be authentically at ease and annoyed, happy, sad. You're not stuck with someone's mood. You can work with the subjects to rule out certain qualities and moods they want to capture in their portrait. Just stay connected with them and work together. How is evoking different from acting? I think a good actor evokes and embodies the qualities of their character or persona, like in method acting, they really become it. They imagine really being that person and they use their own memory and other people's stories to do it. But when most amateurs act, they only change the outside and not their true experience and embodiment of what is really out there in the moment. They make a face and strike a pose, and it always feels unreal. If for example, our client wants to show they are reliable and fun to be with but they are in fact rather nervous and stiff, we as photographers will help them invite and embody those qualities and emotions. Some examples from my practice. Most parents of young children are easily brought into a state of pure love by just imagining their bundles of joy. Also pet owners, they melt when you ask them about their dog or kitten. While taking photos, ask them to see their daughter with a mental eye, let them imagine that she's sitting on their shoulder or let them remember being with their favorite client or friend. Something else that works really well is have them imagine a naughty little plan just before they look into your lens. Most of the time this will make their eyes sparkle or they start laughing. Another example of a very useful emotion to try and evoke is curiosity. You can do this by asking if they want to hear a story, by having them wonder about something like what their portraits will look like, or by having them imagine something special will happen soon. To make this a little more challenging, you can also try and evoke more than one quality at the same time. This always happens naturally. No one is one-dimensional, but you can also do it on purpose. Let's look at two traits for example. Suppose someone wants to show both being down-to-earth and humorous. I found that it works really well to start with the basis, with their feet and legs and I ask them to stand wide with the legs little wide and the knees a little bit bent and feel very grounded. Then as they remain in this posture, you start teasing them and they tease you back. For instance, just when you want to take the photo, they dive or they lean to one side. It could become a little bit like cat and mouse. Keep reminding them to feel the ground down there and start making the playfulness smaller and subtler so you can actually take the photos that you want. One tip for future photo sessions, use the preparation sheet I shared before. It is under Resources. If the client has already thought about how they want to be portrayed, it is more likely they will bring those qualities along and have them more easily accessible. You must also read their answers carefully. You can think of smaller tasks and tricks and questions that will help them to open up and when you have them in front of your lens, still be open to new ideas to get your wanted result. Preparation is only a basis that will help you feel more confident. But the real session or shoot may turn out to be totally different, and that's okay. Now you are going to practice with this. Download the response from a fictitious client to the brief preparation sheet under Resources. Come up with at least three ideas of how to evoke all those traits they would like to be visible in their portrait. If possible, also practice this with a real person and have them answer the questions beforehand. After learning about and practicing with evoking, in the next lesson, you will learn another powerful tool that will help you bring out the real person. 8. (E)Motion and Aliveness: Now, let's talk about why subjects who think a lot, destroy your portraits, the importance of being fully present, and why motion solves almost anything. One of the issues with people being photographed is that they tend to be in their heads too much. How do I look? Am I good enough? I have to do grocery shopping or fill out my tax form. When you are thinking you are not fully present. Chew on that for a moment. Thinking is a way of going away. Our focus is no longer on who and what is there, but somewhere else in our minds. When you're having dinner with someone and they're wondering off, their attention is elsewhere and you immediately feel a disconnect. This is the case too if the subject, model or client is not present and not connected with you the photographer, or if you yourself are not present, it is visible in your photos. How can you get them and yourself back in the moment. There's a little trick that I sometimes use, and that is I apologize for being distracted for a moment and I asked them to bear with me. Usually they wake up and think, oh, I was away too. The easiest way to bring people down from their heads is bringing them into their bodies with their attention. Some people will understand if you say that because they may have experience with yoga or mindfulness, others may look at you funny and it's best not to talk about it too much and just ask them to follow your lead. Give them simple instructions that will make the move, tell them to jump a few times, let them run around the room once or twice. Turn on some music and ask them to dance, and even when they stop moving, they can still feel the energy in their bodies and you can capture it. Motion is visible as energy and can be experienced as emotion and aliveness. Unless you want to capture passiveness or depression, you really want your subjects eyes to sparkle with life. I once had a client and we had a wonderful connection, we talked and we had fun, but as soon as I lifted my camera, he froze and I couldn't take any good photos of him. Then I asked him if he had any hobbies or activities that used to relax him and energize him, and he said, yes, flamenco, and so it happened. He started dancing for me, no music but just he heard it in his head and he lifted his arms and, it was amazing. After a while I asked him to drop his arms so they wouldn't be visible, but the eyes would still sparkle while he was dancing with his feet. Make sure to find the right physical activities for your particular subject. Maybe they have knee trouble and can't jump, or maybe you just want subtle aliveness in the eyes and not like [inaudible] too much energy. Just figure out what you need and what works with that person, so you could maybe ask them to wiggle their toes, or their fingers, or move their hips below camera, figure it out together and maybe if you move along they feel more comfortable and less awkward. Just experiment with this. This lesson was about making your subjects move to capture their aliveness. Move with them, make bad photos that are blurred, it doesn't matter. Those may even turn out to be happy mistakes. It's easy to do at no cost and with a huge effect. Next, we will continue using some motion, and we will help our subject stop feeling like prey. 9. Dynamic Posing: In this lesson, the motion continues and you'll learn how to give away some of your power to the subject. Don't worry, it will help both of you. Most people find it very difficult to be in front of the lens and keep looking at it and they start staring or they feel like prey, and in the end they end up in their heads and you know we don't want that. I teach all my clients a trick they can use to be in charge of their portrait that also brings out a more lively version of themselves. I call it dynamic posing. It's super simple. All you do is you ask them to look away, breathe in, and as they come back, they breathe out. Don't let them pout but just let them sigh like this. You may already see it in my eyes, there's something, with the breath comes the aliveness in the eyes. Try and make them aware of how this feels. They can actually feel it in their eyes after a little bit of practice and if they can't feel it they can definitely see it in the results. You can show some different photos on your camera and you yourself should try too. Practise in front of a mirror or tape yourself and see the difference. This is particularly helpful for people who appear in the press once in a while or often, because press photographers don't have much time usually, they come rushing in. But if the subject, you or your client looks away, they cannot do anything. They have to wait till the subject is ready. After stripping you of some of your power your clients will be very happy and grateful for making them feel less like prey and more in charge. They will keep coming back to you and your models will also love working with you. In the next lesson, another way to get that real person out there. 10. A Distraction: Like motion, distraction can be a great tool as well. In this lesson, I'll cover how this works and how I make my clients do the weirdest things to stop them from worrying and thinking too much. Another way to bring out the real person is to distract them with a little task while they look into the camera. Doesn't this contradict being fully present, you ask. Nope, when someone has a task to do, there is less time and brain space to worry or drift off. Also, when the task is a physical one, it will help the energy and motion, as we talked about before. Not only have they danced the Flamenco for me, I had a client who froze up all the time and I found out that his hobby was boxing. So I asked him to make boxing gestures at the camera at first, really into the lens, and later underneath, and maybe you can see it in my eyes just by doing this, there's more aliveness and he started liking it. Someone else couldn't stop worrying about the results and about how she would look, so I made her hide behind a bunch of ribbons and had her peek through it. First, I'd capture her eye looking through the ribbons and little by little she emerged, and in the end, she just held the ribbons in her hand as a distraction and she didn't have to hide anymore. The results were just what she had hoped for, and actually the ribbons represented something from her business, which was a nice little gift. People who are used to living in their heads are difficult to lure out, so you have to be creative here. In your next assignment, I want you to come up with at least three ideas for small tasks to distract your subject. Think of one person in particular. Share this with me and the other students in your project or in the discussion section. After exploring the many ways to distract your subject and bringing them into the present moment, in the next lesson, I'll share a fun trick that I came up with after struggling with a client with a lot of camera shyness. 11. If All Else Fails: I'm now going to share something I've discovered that can work with very camera shy people. It's not only beneficial for them, but it was also for me. I hope it will be for you too. It sometimes happens that a client really doesn't open up to you or the shooting. You've tried everything and are starting to become a little desperate. The client doesn't feel like working anymore. They become stuck in their head and are frustrated. Once there was this client who was very terrified of the camera, and she had had some very bad experiences in the past and it just didn't work. I tried everything and I almost wanted to call it quits when I thought, no, that's not a good idea because then she'll have another bad experience. I was so lucky that an idea popped up. I gave her my camera and we switched roles. She was a little bit surprised. But we started working and at first she had this rather sadistic look in her eyes. I was bit afraid, but after bossing me around a little bit, she really started coaching me and trying to lure me out to get some very nice portraits. When we switch roles and walk a mile in the other shoes, something shifts and the whole dynamic changes. We get more compassion for the other and ourselves. Give them your camera and become their subject. Give them full control. Maybe give them an assignment, like make three different portraits, so and so, or give them total freedom. Most photographers prefer being behind the camera. I don't know if you're like that too, but then you'll experience being in front of it and surrendering to someone else really brings a new perspective and may bring new ideas to how you work with people in the future. Please remember, if this doesn't do the trick either, you can always blow the whole thing off. After learning how switching roles with their client can change everything for both of you for the good, in the next lesson, we'll talk about the duration of the shoot or session. 12. Duration: In this lesson, we'll talk about why we should have longer sessions or shoots than most people think or can afford. I'll share some ideas on how to find a solution when money is a problem for your client. Many photo sessions or shoots don't get the right results because the photographer doesn't take enough time with their subject. Perhaps because the models are hired by the hour or the client can only afford a short session but needs a longer one. Spending time together is very important. It normalizes the situation which is usually a bit unnatural. It will also help grow confidence and the closeness that comes with simply spending more time together will help you both be open to more ideas, so take your time. This is what a typical photoshoot or session with me starts with. I always take time to what I call land together with a nice drink and some snacks. Don't forget to check their teeth before you start shooting. I once had a client with a tiny tomato peel on his tooth which gave me a lot of practice in Photoshop. Anyway, I talk with them about their morning and what they expect from their portraits. I show that I'm really interested in them by asking to-the-point questions based on their answers to my briefing about their website or their job, and then we talk about their outfit. When we're finished our drinks, we start and have a look at their clothing together. When I work with models I do the same. The more they feel addressed as a whole being, the more they will contribute. For me, it's also a lot more fun to treat them as people instead of objects. But time is money and some people can only afford a short session with you. Be honest to yourself how you feel about this. Do you trust you can do it in a short session? Would you be willing to give a discount? Or can you maybe encourage them to bring on another client and have a longer session with the two of them? Perhaps they have a skill that might be interesting to you and maybe they can pay with the service, or maybe you can offer them a paying plan. Sometimes it's better to just let a job go than pursue it below your rate. I've learned that people who don't value my time are not great to work with. That seems obvious, but it took me a while to act on it. So when they make a problem of my rate, I try to find out why that is. Do they really not have the money? Then I offer them the suggestions I just made, or they don't value my work. It's one of the reasons I'm open about my rates on my website. It takes away a lot of awkwardness around money. In this lesson, we talked about why it's important to take time for a photo session or shoot. It creates space, and how to make this an affordable option for your client too. In the next lesson, we'll talk nonsense. 13. Nonsense: Why are nonsense and play such a good idea for a successful portrait session? Let's have a look at this. You will also get a new exercise for your project to bring nonsense into practice. In between periods of serious portraiture, play with your subject. It will release tension and help renew creativity and energy. With many clients and models, I switch between taking serious photos and doing crazy things. I love it when it happens, and it usually brings out the best in people. But some people think play is for children, and then I tell them it's for my fun so they don't feel childish for doing weird things, and it's true, I need it. I always do a short hair flip shoot when I have someone with long hair in front of my lens, it's fun to do, the results are great, and it gives a lot of practice with focus and failure, and even the hair is often better afterwards. Not always, though. It's another way to lure people out of their minds into their bodies. It's also fun to do when people have short hair or even bald heads. If you want to find other playful things to do, look at your subjects, see how they behave. If they gesture a lot, take some photos with their hands and maybe have them look through their fingers. Often, people end up using those. Also, ask them to make their most horrible face, the one that makes them hate being photographed. The face they always see on photos that were taken by family members or friends. Like the rabbit frozen in headlights, or the double chin, or too stiff, or overly smiling. If the worst part is over, it can only become better. Playing is relaxing and it will make you bond. It depends per person how far you can go. Have them walk into the ocean fully dressed, have them open up their shirt. Try and sense what feels right to ask a person. Some will do just anything, what you ask, if they trust you. Others, maybe they only want to look through their fingers and do something smaller, but that could be just as powerful. Now it's time for another project exercise. Ask someone to come and work with you for about an hour. Try alternating nonsense with some quieter, very focused moments. See how far you can go with this play and what it brings you. Share some photos and a written account in your project. Now that you've learned and practiced with the why of nonsense and play in your serious portrait session, it's time for another perhaps unexpected aspect of authenticity in your work. Follow me to the next lesson. 14. Raw Edges: In this lesson, you'll learn why not to be a perfectionist. I'll be sharing some commercially successful work that was highly flawed, and you'll be practicing being a bit messier than you thought necessary or maybe even possible. With practice and experience comes mastery, and the better we become, the more polished our work looks. That's great, isn't it? No, not really. Life is seldom polished. Our cat has thrown up on the floor, our hair is disobedient, weeds take over the garden, we get ill, or someone we love dies. Small and big things happen all the time to disrupt our well-planned day. If our photos are too perfect, they don't feel real and we don't really believe them. Of course, it can be an artistic choice to create a perfect world, and it can be a successful image to bring a message across, but that will happen on a more mental level. Whereas the visuals that speak to our hearts and bellies, will have a larger emotional impact. I'm going to show you a photo as an example of how powerful realness can be. It's not quite in focus. It has my bra sticking out and I'm holding the remote visibly, but it is in the top three of my most successful images on Getty Images. One client in particular has been using it on their website for years, and it was even on a bus that road around Utah in the US. The photo is more than seven years old, but it's still popular. What makes it still so attractive? I think it is the fact that it is real. Nowadays, I have successful photos in my portfolio that were taken on an iPhone. I have it on me to take quick photos of things that happened in my life, like my cat joining a video call, and customers love it. Like I already told you in the lesson on preparation, do prepare, but stay open. Have some light and props, but keep room for surprises. It is better to have the right elements ready and let the rest unfold. Now you're going to apply the idea of rawness in your own portraits. Make two versions of a portrait. One that's most perfect and polished, with lovely lighting and a clean environment, and one that is set up with less effort and less thinking, but photographed with full attention of you and the subject. Share both portraits in your project and tell us your experience. How did it make you feel to do it and to see the results? I'll tell you too. Next up, sitting, standing or. 15. Sitting, Standing...: Now, you will learn the effect of different postures on your subject and thus on the results. You'll experiment with supportive and playful activities like leaning, hiding, and emerging. Everyone is different and people vary per situation. Ask them if they want to sit or stand and if they don't know, just try it out. Vary between the two, and add dancing and hanging upside down just for fun and relaxation. Many people find it helpful to lean with their hands on something or even lean against a wall. Let them sit at a table where their hands can rest, where they can put their head down and fall asleep, where they can hide and emerge. You can also use stereotypical fixed poses as a starting point, like have them rest their chin on their hand and let them feel how it feels that their head can relax. Shoot some photos, then ask them to keep the posture but remove their hand. If you're quick enough, you can capture that rested feeling without the typical hand there. Repeat. Let them pretend to be fashion models, hips, shoulders, the works. If you and they have no idea how to do it, it doesn't matter. Just play and alternate with more serious and quiet moments. If there's room enough, let them lie down on their back, side, belly, in a yoga pose, alternate motion and stillness. It will do a lot for both of you. In this lesson, you've learned how someone's posture and varying between postures adds more playfulness and relaxation to your shoot or session. In the next lesson, I'll be taking away the larger part of your kit. Don't worry, it's only temporary. Let's go and see what that's about. 16. Simpler Gear: This lesson is not for you, if you use a modest kit or if you're not a tech freak. But you can watch, if you like to know what the tech freaks among us must learn, and it may take away some of the preconceptions you might have about the importance of gear. In this lesson, you're going to practice spending less time on technique, lenses, studio lighting, etc. If you find yourself stuck in filters and gadgets and technique in general, and if you spend so much time setting up a shoot or even a single shot that the subjects lose their focus or get cranky, try using simpler gear just for practice and to get back to the basics. An encounter with the subject, with the person via the lens. Some examples of what you can do that can help: use daylight only, use a smaller camera or just one fixed lens, or choose one focal length on your zoom lens. No cheating. Use your smartphone, throw out a tripod. Don't use the viewfinder or the monitor. Just shoot from the hip or loosely from the hand. Go to the park or your living room, instead of shooting in your high-tech studio. Doing this will bring back the joy in photography. You will have more time and attention for your model, and there will be more room for surprise because you're no longer trying to control the outcome. The speed will go up and there will be more energy for you and your subject. Now, it's time for you to practice. Ask a friend to work with you and try out at least two of my suggestions, that you would normally never do. Share the results in your project and let me know how this was for you and your model. Now you know and have experienced why the time you spend on technique must be balanced with the time you have for your subject. Next up, how to answer, if a client asks you what to wear. 17. "What Should I Wear?": How to brief your client or model on outfits. Let me share my ideas and downloadable brief that you can use to write your own. Clients always ask what to wear and many photographers tell them to wear something comfortable. But that's only part of the briefing I give. So before I answer their question, I always ask the most important ones. What will you need the photos for and what do you want to express with them? Perhaps, their professionalism or how easy they are to get along with, how trustworthy they are or perhaps they might like to capture some of their quirkiness too. Who do they want to reach or address? If they know the answers, their wardrobe options will be fewer and they can probably easily pick a few suitable outfits. You can also advise them to shoot a little series instead of trying to capture all their qualities in one photo. It gives a lot of freedom and it will show the world all the aspects in just three or five photos. What is important in their outfits? Yes, they must feel comfortable with no tight underwear and no itchy materials, no holes in socks as the shoes might come off during a playful moment. Perhaps they don't feel comfortable then ask them to try on different clothes in front of the mirror at home. Which colors make their eyes pop? What is most flattering for their skin? How do they feel wearing the different clothes? Then ask them to match the clothes with what they want to capture in their portraits. Then there is hair and makeup. I always tell my clients not to go to the hairdressers just before a photo session because it will probably never look like that again and it may look a bit unnatural. Next, I tell them not to wear makeup they don't normally wear. I once worked with a client and she wore lipstick color that she never put on before and she was very unhappy about the portraits because she didn't even look like herself. When working with models, keep checking if what they are wearing and have on their face is matching what you want to express with your photos. Here's a little list of what's good to have available on set: a hand mirror, a tall mirror, modifying powder in different skin tones from very fair to very dark, a comb, some gel or cream wax, and a blow dryer in case they catch some rain on their way to you. I've had it happen that a rather drowned client appeared at my doorstep. Also, have one of these ready. You may not have a pet, they might, or they might have some dandruff and it will give you a lot of Photoshop practice if you don't remove it before shooting. Under resources, you can download my briefing that you can use to write your own. Please, don't just copy it, but tweak it to your own needs and maybe add your own logo to it. Now, your clients know what to wear and how much makeup to put on. In the next lesson, I'll share some of my mistakes and how mistakes can turn out to be good for you. 18. My Mistakes: In this lesson, I'll share some of the mistakes I made with clients. One, didn't improve the rapport with a client, another one told me important lessons for the future and one brought me an ambassador for my business. One time, I didn't keep an eye on my boundaries, someone came for a business portrait session, but she hated being photographed because of bad experiences and a negative self-image. Just the client for me I thought. But she was one of the people who think that the photographer can do it by themselves. Instead of telling her right away that it wouldn't work if she didn't try to open up, I kept working and trying to do it by myself. After half an hour, I was very tired and annoyed really, and I told her we would have to stop if she didn't start cooperating with me. She went out for a smoke and when she returned, we did finally succeed in making a few good portraits. But it did feel like we had both crossed some boundaries and she never returned. Not all clients are camera-shy or are shy at all for that matter. One of my clients has rather strong opinions and she expresses them with conviction. I don't always agree with her and that's okay, of course. But it was not okay that time we got into an argument just before we wanted to start shooting. It got a little bit heated and it took quite a while for her to land and open up to me again. I was not very pleased with the results, so I phoned her up to offer her an extra session for free because I shouldn't have argued with her. But she was contend with enough photos and she took responsibility herself for her part. She came back a year later for an extra session and she even promoted me to her followers. I see it as an example of good customer service. People will remember how you treated them and how you solved the problem, and they will forget your mistake. Although this ended well, when I find myself in a situation like this again, I tell them we can continue the discussion later and try to steer to a more safe topic. That will help our task: luring them out and capturing more than agitated mind. One person hadn't read anything on my website or in my mail about how I work. They were very hurried and wanted to start shooting at once and instead of telling them I need the landing moment as much as they would, I went along with it. I tried to adjust to their impatience and restlessness, but instead I got really stressed out. It taught me to be very clear with future clients and it has changed a lot for me. The people that fit will come and the people that don't, don't. Perfect. The biggest takeaway from this lesson is that during a photoshoot or session, you should check how you are feeling. Is it going the way you want? Can you do anything about it? Can the other person? This is a plea for honesty with yourself and the other. It goes along way. I'm curious to hear about your mistakes, and would like you to share them in your project or in the discussions area for all of us to learn from. In the next lesson, let's have a look at your growing project and add one final exercise to it. 19. Cherry on Your Project: Here is your last assignment. You will be applying several skills you've learned in this class. This time, I want you to make it difficult for yourself, and ask a stranger to work with you, someone you invite via social media. It's a great way to do it, and let people know that you do portraits. It could also be someone you meet on the street. Ask them to bring two sets of clothing that they would wear in two different settings. For example, when being a couch potato and for a nice dinner party or workwear and weekend wear. Anything goes as long as the outfits belong to different worlds. I want you to share two different portraits with that person. Of course, you'll be taking a lot more photos to get those two. After working with this person, you can repeat this with as many people as you like, just to get more practice. Let them pick outfit 1 and talk about why they chose it. Connect with them via what they tell you, like material, color, formal, relaxing. Maybe it reminds them of something. Let them imagine being on that couch, or on the sport field, or at a party, and then have them express how it feels. Note, this is not acting, this is evoking. If you miss this important lesson, the difference between evoking and acting, please have a look at it now. Allow them to just be. Let them show how they currently feel, but have them look into the camera and express it with their eyes. Outfit 2. As soon as they have it on, have them in front of the camera and take photos. Ask them how they feel now wearing this and how it's different from the other outfit. Can you see it in the photos? If you cannot, or even if you can, continue and apply at least three of the skills you've learned in this class, like dynamic posing, coming from a pose, using a distraction or nonsense, and of course, by truly connecting with your subject. I really look forward to seeing the results of this final exercise. I see it as a cherry on your project. Feel free to ask for help, but I trust you can do it if you apply what you've learned in this class. It's almost over. In the final lesson, I'll share one last trick that I have up my sleeve. 20. Last Trick & Bloopers: We've nearly reached the end of this class, and I'm so happy you've joined me on this adventure. Let's have a look at what we've covered in this class. We've dived into the essence of authenticity and why it is so important for your portraits to look real. You've learned about how to connect with your subject in many ways, both verbally and by playing together. I've shared many possible ways to make your subject feel more at ease so you can capture their true self and their liveness. I've shared several personal stories like on why failures are not so bad and I've taught you to be true to yourself about the process, and there was a lot more. Feel free to go back anytime to watch a lesson again. Please make sure to download the resources I made for you. They will help you with your future projects, with clients, and models. You are always welcome to come back and ask me questions, even weeks, or months, or years after you've taken this class. I hope you've enjoyed this and I would be very grateful if you could leave me a short review. It will help other students know why they should take this class and will make me happy too. If you haven't already, please have a look at my other classes on camera shyness, lighting your head shots with simple materials, and visual storytelling. If there's anything else you'd like me to teach in a future class, please ask, I might just do it. Now it's time for one final trick you can use at the end of your photo session. It works well with people who didn't really get to relax and didn't really enjoy it. Put your camera down. Tell them it's over and conclude the session. Then watch the tension go away from their face and ask them to look at you one more time. Take a few photos. Often there will be a winner there. Now it's time for me to really go. I won't ask you to look at me one more time. Thank you so much for watching and I hope to see you in my other classes. Bye. Hi, throughout the class, I'll be giving you some exercises. Those may even turn out to be happy mistakes, bye.