How to Capture Authentic Moments as a Portrait Photographer

In a refreshing video, photographer Sean Tucker sets aside the technical advice for a moment and dives into the real challenge facing portrait photographers: how to capture an authentic moment, an authentic person, in a formal portrait photography setting.

The video is based around a quote Tucker heard once that he can’t, for the life of him, remember the source of. It goes:

Every portrait is a war between the sitter’s vanity and the photographer’s guile.

The subject wants to look a certain way and they will sit down sporting their ‘armor.’ It’s the photographer’s job to find the chink in that armor and capture the real person beneath it. If the resulting image makes the subject a bit uncomfortable, that’s usually a good sign.


Tucker suggests a few ways that you can go about doing this—from distractions to a creative little portrait trick you may have already heard of. He also suggests getting in front of the camera from time-to-time to remind yourself of the struggle that role entails. But ultimately, your approach will match your personality.

The important thing is to go into the experience with the right goal in mind. Look for the chink in the armor; reveal the person beneath the persona.