Lucy looks wistfully towards her mother

[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from Natalie Thornton.

Natalie says:

“Lucy was looking for a photographer to capture her in the fine art approach. We shot this session in the hilly and quiet Idyllwild Park, a mere 30 minutes up a winding and scenic Hwy 74 and were transported from a dry, desert landscape to a view of unending pine trees.

Lucy brought her mother and best friend to accompany her for her portrait session. These two very special people brought her to life, as she wandered and smiled among the trees.

In a long pink dress, borrowed from her sister’s closet, Lucy hummed and daydreamed about filming her next music video, and giggled at the thought of performing it with her boyfriend.

With love around her and cool wind blowing through her hair, Lucy’s spirit is perfectly captured in these peaceful and soft photographs that mark her graduation and the life she has ahead of her.”

Natalie’s Photography Tip:

Let’s face it: most photography clients who come our way have no modeling experience. Many clients that hire me open with, “Just so you know, I’m really awkward in front of the camera.”

While a few clients get visibly uncomfortable when I turn my camera on, the vast majority are comfortable, but need direction. As photographers, it’s our job to make the process of a portrait session a painless experience.

Here are a few things that I do to make sure my client stays relaxed and comfortable:

1. Ask your client to bring a loved one along: Individual portraits can become uncomfortable for the client and the end product can be visually boring if there isn’t any interaction.

To counter the intimidating nature of my camera, ask that the client bring a loved one or close friend to the session. The company of someone they know and love always eases tensions and puts the client in their element immediately.

2. Distract your client: Once we get started, have the loved one stand at your side and talk to your subject. As the subject reacts and talks back, use continuous shooting to capture the subject in a variety of expressions and angles.

Once the subject is in conversation, interject when you want to add a comment or an observation, and suddenly, you are just enjoying each other’s company (while getting some awesome natural shots!).

3. Direct them: Once the subject has loosened up and you’ve captured some candid shots, direct the client to look at you, look to the side, take a walk, or move around a bit.

I have found that directing the client a little in the beginning (by instructing them to talk to their loved one) and towards the end of the session (looks and movement), you can make the client comfortable and snap some wonderfully candid photographs without them even knowing it.

By following the tip above, you will be able to capture natural, engaging, and beautifully candid photos with very little discomfort or stress on you or the client.

Lucy in conversation with her best friend
A genuine and hopeful smile

Natalie used a Canon 5D Mark II with a Canon 35mm f/1.4 lens to capture these images.

Natalie Thornton is a Southern California Fine Art Wedding, Portrait, and Lifestyle photographer.



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Published by Beth Teutschmann

A big fan of food, chaos, and all things fun, Beth is the owner of Starboard Editing, LLC - a photography post-production company focusing on anything from editing to blogging and SEO. When she's required to leave the confines of her dark room, she enjoys martial arts, eating, tattoos, cooking, ice cream, sillyness, eating, and traveling. You should probably say hi.

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  1. Thanks, Cynthi! It’s so much easier to have couples interact naturally, but individual portraits can get stiff if there isn’t another person present. Thanks for reading!

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