This comes from an email I recently received from someone who is trying to build up their portrait photography business. One of the best recommendations I can give to a beginning photographer when starting is to shoot friends and family for free. The question was essentially, how do you get people to go along with this whole concept and get them more excited about the shoot.

Most Photographers, including many top level professionals I have seen have a hard time understanding that your “people skills” are more important than your actual “photography” skills when shooting people.

Your subjects will reflect whatever it is you project.

If you are nervous, they will be nervous.
If you hesitate, they will hesitate.
If you are laughing and joking, they will laugh and joke with you.

This is very powerful stuff. Unless the subject is a professional model, it will matter how you act behind the camera.

Lets assume we have a great looking friend whom we want to use to build up our portfolio. The goal and outcome of these 2 questions are the same, however, taste the vibe of each and try to feel what they might feel:

1. Hey I was wondering if you could help me. I am building my portrait portfolio and need some pics. Im not really sure what I am doing, but I need someone to sit and like….practice on? If any of them come out, you could have them.

2. Ive never told you this but I think you are absolutely beautiful and would really like to give you a free portrait shoot. It will be a lot of fun, plus you will have tons of great pictures- its free. What do you think about this week at 7pm?

Always speak to your clients and subjects in their perspective and what the benefit it will be to THEM (not you).