Headshot photographer Peter Hurley recently gave a speech at a TEDx event in Cambridge with the psychologist Anna Rowley, explaining why people feel uncomfortable in front of cameras and how to solve that problem.
Peter begins the talk by telling a story about a woman whose headshot he took. During the editing process, that woman turned to her husband saying: “Honey, I can’t stand my face!” That woman happened to be miss universe. EVERYONE has a gap between how the world around you perceives you and how you see yourself. The only thing that varies from human to human is the size of that gap. It is that gap and your “inner critic” that make you uncomfortable in front of cameras.
Peter Hurley and Anna Rowley met for the first time while working for Microsoft and Anna Rowley had to experience that same fear of getting her headshot taken when Peter was assigned to photograph her. It was that moment that led to the main topic of their speech: Why do most people feel so vulnerable in front of cameras? And what can a photographer do to silence that inner critic and to make his clients feel comfortable in front of his lens?
Peter and Anna actually offer workshops on their website about how to feel more comfortable in front of cameras and on how to make people feel more comfortable in front of them.
In my opinion, communication with your model or client is one of the most valuable skills you can have as a photographer. There are just so many of these awkward photos out there in which the subject literally screams that the whole situation is extremely uncomfortable for him/her and you should try to avoid that by comforting your model. Peter Hurley is a master of directing his clients and communicating with them so they feel good in from of his camera. Here are 2 more of his videos on the topic of posing and communication:
What do you think about this TEDx talk? Do you have any tips regarding this topic? Feel free to let us know in the comments!