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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Fashion, Editorial & Commercial Talk
Thread started 23 Mar 2016 (Wednesday) 11:49
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Confidence directing people..

 
moxphoto
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Post has been last edited over 1 year ago by moxphoto. 2 edits done in total.
Mar 23, 2016 11:49 |  #1

Hi guys -

So I've been doing photography a little over 2 years now. I've learned a ton.. and improved a lot in refining my eye, post processing, shot selection, lighting, etc. Of course the technical learning process is an ongoing journey of improvement. However - I find one of my biggest challenges to be directing people with confidence.. I find that, often times on a shoot (especially with someone new) I feel like I dont speak up as much as I should and that my full creativity is locked away some where.. like im just running on auto pilot and not fully relaxing and letting my ideas come out.. then I get self conscious about that.. There are even times on a shoot where I feel like somethings not working, and sometimes I dont say anything.. just keep shooting. Im actually very good with people in terms of small talk and making people feel comfortable, that comes naturally to me.. but when it comes to directing people, my brain seems to freeze up. I think I feel a lot of pressure, or put a lot of pressure on myself to be really creative in the moment and I have a fear of looking like I dont know what im doing. I've also had a history of feeling those feelings when it comes to talking to a large group of people (although I've gotten a lot better about that).. I think im afraid of being creative in front of other people.. of having to think on my feet.. because im afraid of failing and disappointing people.. or afraid of people thinking I dont know what im doing. Also - I doubt my knowledge.. like, do I really know how to do this or that? Sometimes I feel like if I just know enough technical details ill feel comfortable.. I think its the spontaneity and trying things out that freaks me out. The interesting thing.. is that half the time I feel really good about my work ... literally in one day, I could go from being like, my works really good, im awesome, I can do anything.. to feeling a lack of confidence.

Can anyone relate? Has anyone been through this? I know that I have a lot of creativity to bring to the table, but photography in a proffesional sense involves a lot more then just the technical knowledge and natural eye. I need to be able to direct people confidently, have a vision, get them to be on board with my idea and see it through to reality.




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sourcehill
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Mar 23, 2016 12:11 |  #2

You're #1 job if you photograph people is making them feel comfortable and directing them. The best investment you can ever make is take a couple classes on posing. It will separate you from the pack of photographers who are in the exact same boat as you. Then you can start worrying less about connecting and focus on bringing out those creative juices.


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gonzogolf
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Post has been edited over 1 year ago by gonzogolf.
Mar 23, 2016 12:44 |  #3

Fake it til it becomes second nature. I'm somewhat shy and reserved but in one of my past jobs I shot for a state legislature. I had to do lots of posed groups with important people. You just convince yourself that you know what needs to be done, you are the only one in the room who sees the shot, and its up to you to make it work. Using that mindset I was able to tell state governors and US senators to sit still, smile, and temporarily stop talking. You can do this.




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OhLook
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Mar 23, 2016 13:45 |  #4

moxphoto wrote in post #17945737 (external link)
I think im afraid of being creative in front of other people.. of having to think on my feet.. because im afraid of failing and disappointing people.. or afraid of people thinking I dont know what im doing.

At such moments, you might try reminding yourself that most people you work with won't be that judgmental. They're thinking about how they're doing at their part of the project.


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nathancarter
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Mar 24, 2016 14:43 |  #5

It gets easier with practice. practice, practice. For me, the technical aspect of photography has been easy, and the creative aspect is a lot of effort but still within my skill/talent set. But as an introvert whose natural habitat is hiding under the bed until everyone goes away, the social aspect is extremely difficult.

Like any skill, it gets easier with practice.

Also, this:

gonzogolf wrote in post #17945790 (external link)
Fake it til it becomes second nature. I'm somewhat shy and reserved but in one of my past jobs I shot for a state legislature. I had to do lots of posed groups with important people. You just convince yourself that you know what needs to be done, you are the only one in the room who sees the shot, and its up to you to make it work. Using that mindset I was able to tell state governors and US senators to sit still, smile, and temporarily stop talking. You can do this.

I was going to say something similar. You don't have to feel like you know what you're doing, but you do have to pretend like you know what you're doing. Fake it till you make it. Smile, project a confident voice (even when your guts are butterfly-flavored jelly), make eye contact, say those sweet-nothing compliments to make your subjects feel confident and at ease, tell them the photos look great when they look great, tell them "hey, let's try something different" if the photos don't look great.

Eventually you'll be good enough at faking it that it'll be effortless, almost second nature.

A few months ago I was shouting through a megaphone at hundreds of people to direct this group. Way, WAY out of my comfort zone, but I put on the extrovert mask and got it done.

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98kellrs
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Apr 02, 2016 18:37 |  #6

The fake it til you make it is precisely what I do regarding confidence and direction and all of my shoots have been very well received.

If you're the #1 shooter, it falls 100% on your shoulders, so you just have to step up. Taking classes would definitely be a good idea too, that way you may learn some of the mechanics involved with posing.


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-Duck-
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Jun 22, 2016 21:07 |  #7

The fake it 'till you make it advice, while good on the surface, doesn't really offer any solution. Unfortunately there is no easy solution. Confidence comes with experience. Personally I am not a people photographer. I shoot inanimate products and am very happy doing so. However, as an instructor I am asked to provide workshops on a wide range of subjects, including portraiture. Here is how I explain it to my students.

Learning photography is like building a pyramid. The base consists of all the technical stuff; camera, exposure, metering, depth of field, equipment, and all those little things a beginner has to worry about. At this point the circle of observation is hardly ever further than the viewfinder. A million things run through your head; framing, focus, which direction does this dial have to turn to open the aperture and so on. Little mistakes seem huge in relation.

As equipment and photography knowledge increases so does the circle of observation. Usually it expands to composition, lighting, lens selection but seldom to the more artistic side. It's when all the above becomes second nature that creativity steps in and the circle of observation expands to include manipulating the subject and other elements.

Or to put it another way; "A novice photographer bends to the will of the subject. To a master, the subject bends to the will of the photographer."

Fortunately you have identified and acknowledge a problem in your business. The first step in solving that problem is knowing it's a problem. Now you have to take the necessary steps to fix it. Here is where friends (true friends, not acquaintances) can help. Do a couple of project sessions with them. Offer to give them a free portrait if they'd be willing to sit for you. This sounds like it should put you in a more relaxed situation but will actually be a bit more stressful for you since you'll feel like you have to 'perform without error' for them. Stress can be a worthwhile motivator.

Here is what you'll need to keep in mind;

  • You are the expert, not them. Everything you do (light/camera/set adjustments) are on purpose. No one knows there's a problem unless you advertise it to be a problem.
  • Don't fall into a bad habit of ignoring the problem in hopes that it'll solve itself or that, "no one will notice the problem if I just keep shooting." Stop everything, give your subject a break (or make something up for them to do; fix hair, change a shirt, it doesn't matter), and take a personal moment to breathe and relax. The brain works better when it can think properly. :-D
  • If you have assistants you can rely on, give them the task of helping you fix the problem. That's their job and what they expect to do.
  • If it's something technical you can't solve, pull out your smartphone/tablet/comp​uter and quickly Google it. Sneak off to the bathroom or the back office if you want.

Once you are recomposed you'll return to your project with a little more confidence.

Now, here is why I said enlist friends rather than strangers. After all is done, have a heart to heart conversation with them and admit your insecurities to them (this takes some guts but do it). They'll let you know how they perceived the situation from their perspective. You'll quickly come to realize that what you think they are experiencing is quite different that what they really are. That will add to your experience and increase your confidence.

Hope this helps.

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absplastic
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Jul 08, 2016 20:57 |  #8

Good organization and having a written plan for a shoot--ideas, sketches, mood board, reference photos, lighting diagrams, etc--will go a long way towards how you are perceived by everyone else involved. When you look organized, confident and professional, people will respond to you accordingly, which will in turn boost your confidence and make you feel more comfortable and confident.

Photoshoots often have a lot of people moving around and a lot going on, and without a good documented plan to keep you grounded and on track, it's like going to the grocery store without a list, wandering the aisles aimlessly, and then coming home hours later with things you didn't intend to buy and none of the food you actually need. The same thing will happen at a shoot, you'll forget the lighting setup you meant to use, the shots you wanted to get, and you'll remember it all on the way home when your mind is relaxed and it's too late.

If you've got example photos to show the models, and lighting diagrams to remind you of the setups you researched on the internet and want to try out, and equipment lists to make sure you bring the stuff you need for the ideas you wish to execute, things will run more smoothly and efficiently and you'll unburden yourself of much of the "having to think on your feet" or the risk of drawing mental blanks on what you're supposed to be doing. Be prepared, have a plan, and stick to it.

With regard to directing people specifically, you also need to gauge the experience level of your subjects. There is a big difference between portrait clients and professional models. Sometimes you'll be the expert, sometime you won't, and you have to get a feel for how your experience level compares to that of the other people involved in a shoot. If you don't give enough posing direction to an inexperienced subject, they will feel awkward and at a loss for what to do. But at the same time, you will annoy a model with 10 years of experience if you give him or her posing 101 tips. It's a skill to assess the situation quickly and either leverage your talent's expertise or coach them accordingly. This is really only learned with experience, and some degree of intuition, there isn't really a cheat sheet for it.


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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Jul 08, 2016 22:50 |  #9

i haven't watched this, but it quite literally came across my screen right after i viewed this post.


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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Jul 08, 2016 22:54 as a reply to Left Handed Brisket's post |  #10

oh, and i completely agree with going in with a detailed plan. When you don't have the confidence (probably from lack of experience) you must devote a bunch of time in advance of each shoot to get ready. Once you get there, sh!t will go wrong, or at least different than what you expecte, but just plow through and keep moving.

Look at the back of the camera and say "GREAT!" a lot :D


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RDKirk
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Jul 18, 2016 18:00 |  #11

Left Handed Brisket wrote in post #18061758 (external link)
oh, and i completely agree with going in with a detailed plan. When you don't have the confidence (probably from lack of experience) you must devote a bunch of time in advance of each shoot to get ready. Once you get there, sh!t will go wrong, or at least different than what you expecte, but just plow through and keep moving.

Look at the back of the camera and say "GREAT!" a lot :D

I fully agree with walking into the shoot with a plan and starting with that plan. It's likely not to go as planned, but a plan gets you started with positive direction of the shoot and gives you confidence up front. Just understand that you can then deviate as necessary.




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Confidence directing people..
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