The psychology of portrait photography

The psychology of portrait photography – How many times has someone pointed a camera at you and yelled “smile”! Or even worse – just pointed the camera at you? No wonder we develop a dislike of the camera. If the results are disappointing, or just not as good as they could be, we start to avoid the camera.

That’s where a good professional photographer earns his fee. Yes, the lighting has to be right. Yes, the background has to be perfect. And yes, what you wear will all make a difference to how good your photographs are. But nothing matters as much as how you feel.

When I take someone’s photograph I talk to them. We talk about what they will use the photographs for, what their line of work is, what they enjoy doing when they are not working. We chat – we get to know each other a bit, until both of us start to relax. Because I can’t take a great photograph until I start to understand a little bit about you.

It’s the psychology of portrait photography – and it’s the reason that great portrait photographers take photographs that get noticed. The wonderful images are all down to the person I’m pointing my camera at. I can’t take any credit for my clients’ good looks or their fabulous personalities. What I can take credit for, though, is letting their looks and personalities shine in front of the camera. And that’s different with everyone. Sometimes it means putting the camera away for a bit, and sometimes it means walking round the studio and to let off a bit of steam. But it always results in an image that is true and flattering.

Do you know that Princess Diana’s favourite photographer was Mario Testino? You might wonder why anyone as beautiful as Princess Di had a favourite photographer – surely anyone could take a flattering photograph of her? Yet she thought his photographs made her look confident and relaxed. I am sure she was confident and relaxed when she was with him – that’s his skill.

When you come and have your photograph taken you don’t have to worry about any of this – that’s my job. To make your images look like you at your very best: whether that is confident and relaxed or successful and at the top of your game.

I’ve already been compared to Picasso – now let me show you that I can give Mario Testino a run for his money!

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