Very few times do I shoot nowadays without the session becoming not only a Photography session but a coaching session. My people sessions are usually based around 2 principles, most people dislike posing for a portrait and most people have never been taught how to do it properly. I have started to incorporate more and more facial coaching or a better term might be expression coaching.
My Headshot sessions have always been based around these 2 principles but I have also recently felt the need to incorporate them into my Corporate portrait sessions and my Glamour portrait sessions as well !
Day to day we don’t normally think about the expression on our face. We like to think our face is our face and we look the way we look because of our parents & our inherited genes etc etc. When we have a portrait photo session done, whether it be a Headshot, Corporate Portrait or a Glamour portrait we are effectively freezing our expressions.
I used to think that when you photographed a person they either looked good in a photo or they didn’t, I now know that this is a myth and that “how to look good in a photograph” can be taught. I started to think about photographing Human faces more & more in Japan and I found that many Japanese people, women in particular were very photogenic. I started to ask myself, what do Japanese women do when they are posing for a photograph that other people don’t do. I also started to study the images of master Headshot photographers, particularly the ones that shoot a lot of actors & actresses. There were a few things that started to become clear.
Being good looking does not necessarily mean that you are photogenic ! Of course the reason that we have beautiful models that we see on a daily basis, is that there are a lucky few that can combine their good looks with the ability to be able to form expressions that match their clothing, environment or genre that they are being photographed in at that time. I have photographed some very beautiful girls & women that did not go on to become world famous models because they didn’t have that ability to be able to form an expression on cue. I always thought that a model or a person either had it or they didn’t. I was wrong !
Their are 4 main things we need to think about when photographing someones face, jawline ( thanks PeterHurley), eyes, eyebrows and mouth. These are the things we need to get right. The ability to be able to coach someone into an expression is a major part of all my photography sessions now.