How to Make People Feel Comfortable When Photographing Headshots

Just about everyone feels some discomfort when posing for photographs. Whether they’ve never had a professional photoshoot before or stiffen up in front of the camera, getting the perfect shot can be difficult.

Fortunately, there are some methods that can be used to put them more at ease. This will make their experience better, and it will also make things much easier for you.

In order to take a good headshot, it’s vital for the subject to connect with you. This doesn’t mean that you should walk away from the photoshoot with a new best friend. Instead, you should have an amicable manner but also know how to direct the subject. Most importantly, the subject needs to feel comfortable in their surroundings.

How Do You Help Someone Who Doesn’t Feel Comfortable on Camera?

If someone doesn’t feel comfortable getting their photograph taken, try the following:

Make Sure You Feel Comfortable

The easiest way to get your subject to relax is by being relaxed yourself. Even if they’re not consciously aware of it, your subject will pick up on any discomfort on your part. Exhibit confidence, and your subject will automatically feel a bit more relaxed.

Let Them See a Couple of Good Photos

After you start the photoshoot, you’ll have the ability to let them see a couple of good photos. This is the perfect thing to do if their discomfort continues. As soon as they see how good they look, they should instantly feel better.

Ask a Few Questions

One trick for relaxing a subject is to ask them questions that are unrelated to the photoshoot. This will accomplish two things. First, it will humanize you. Second, it will make them focus on something other than how they look in the moment. Be prepared to take some photos because the more relaxed they become, the better their shots should be.

Remember to Show Them How to Pose

One thing that trips people up is figuring out how to pose for a photograph. Where do they put their hands? What angle should they hold their face at? These questions and more will likely be filling your subject’s head. Therefore, offer some advice, but keep it simple! Not only will this make the photoshoot easier for them, but it will also help show them that you’re an expert in your field.

Don’t Touch Them Without Asking

Some photographers get so used to working with their subjects that they’ll swoop right in and touch them. Your intentions are most likely good, but you never want to do this without asking. If your subject has issues with being touched, you’re going to shut them down immediately by doing so. Always remember to ask for permission.

Don’t Be Fake

Unless you’re sure you can pull it off, don’t try any fake one-liners to put them at ease. Instead, it’s better to simply be yourself. You could even try empathizing with them. For instance, if you’ve felt uncomfortable in front of a camera in the past, you might try saying, “I know how you feel. This one time…”. Make sure your story ends with how amazing your photos turned out, as this will give them a much-needed confidence boost.

Give Them a Roadmap to the Shoot

Are there certain things you do during every shoot? Telling your subject what they can expect from you will help them feel calmer. Let them know how long the shoot should take, when you’re going to work on headshots vs candid photos, etc. This will take them out of their heads and let them enjoy working with you.

Compliment Them

Who doesn’t like a sincere compliment? No matter who your subject is, you’re bound to find something you can compliment them on. Doing this at the beginning of the photoshoot will definitely help them relax. If you work in a few compliments during the photoshoot as well, you’re going to help them stay relaxed. Complimenting people costs you nothing, and yet you’ll gain a lot.

Get Candid

Most people believe that a good photograph must be posed. Disabuse your subjects of this notion by taking some candid shots. After all, nothing relaxes a person more than being allowed to simply do their thing. They could be talking to each other, tossing a ball around or even something seasonal such as picking pumpkins. Just make sure you’re there to capture it all!

How to Make Someone Feel Comfortable for Their Headshots

A few other tricks of the trade that can make your subject feel comfortable for their headshots include:

  • Being prepared for the photo shoot and not rushing the session,
  • Asking the person if they have any preferences or ideas for their headshots,
  • Choosing a comfortable location, and…
  • Providing uplifting, positive comments to make them feel at ease.

Now that you’ve gotten some advice on making people feel comfortable as you take their headshot, the process of getting fantastic pictures should become much easier. You may have to use anywhere from one to all of the tips above, depending on how nervous they are. It’ll be worth it once you see their natural smile on camera, though. Even better, your subject will be thrilled with the results!

About the author: Kyle Bondeson has been a professional photographer since 2009. He specializes in doing headshots and portraits in the Chicago area. Kyle successfully uses the tips listed above to get high-quality results.