Personal Touch; Do People Skills Make Me A Better Photographer? Page 2

Third, I try to visualize in advance the emotion I'm after. The people you're interested in photographing have something that makes you want to photograph them. I'm attracted by something: the way they look, their demeanor, their photogenic quality, how they move, their expression. Usually within a minute of meeting someone I can figure out what kind of emotion I want to get from them, and what kind of emotion they're capable of giving. Maybe it's a laugh or a wistful look. I'm looking for what they're good at giving, and I direct them toward it, partly by being demonstrative and emotional while I'm working with them. While I'm shooting I let them know that I'm happy with what I'm getting. I don't hold back, I'm not reserved. I let them know how I feel about what we're doing. Professional models are doing a job, of course, but I think everyone wants to have feedback from the photographer; they want the security of knowing that they're doing it right. I encourage them--"That's it, that's good!"--when we're getting it right.

Finally, I want the exchange to be positive. "Exchange" is a key--we all should get something from the experience. For many of the people I photograph, the session may be their first real experience in front of a camera, and I realize that it's my chance to make a positive impression and make them feel good about what they're doing. I let them know that I appreciate what they're doing for me and with me.

So, those are the things that are more important to my pictures being successful than my camera, my organizational skills, or my experience. It's not the gear, it's me. Sound egotistical? Not when the people who pay me and buy my photos say it. Telling me that I'm good with people is exactly what I hope to hear.