I've been analyzing my portrait photos looking for ways to improve them. Portraits to me are mostly a hobby - a fun way to express some creative ideas, follow a theme or develop a technical aspect of photography.
There are many ways to improve my people shots like better control of light, better locations or better postprocessing workflow, but the main thing holding me back would be the interaction with my subjects.
What are some of your techniques for making subjects relaxed in front of the camera, so that they act like themselves or that their poses come naturally and don't look so stiff.
In particular the biggest challenge for me is the facial expression.
A blank stare or a forced smile rarely help a photo. What do you do when it comes to facial expressions your subjects?
Thanks for your input.