Always be positive. Always. Be. Positive. Positivity and genuine excitement about what you are doing will always move you forward. Not only will it affect your mood and work ethic, but it will affect your subject’s mood on set. Building the confidence of your subject through the direction you give will bring out the best that they have to offer. Give direction that strips them of their confidence, and you may as well put your camera back in your bag and go home. Below are a few things you can do (and things you shouldn’t do) to help whoever is in front of your camera be their most confident and photogenic self.
Be quick to praise, but always be genuine. Don’t diminish the strength of your compliments by constantly saying, “Perfect,” “I love that,” or “That’s great.” Instead, give specific praise such as, “I love that expression!” or “I love how delicate that pose is, hold that for a minute.” This will give power to your compliments and will be a huge confidence boost! If your subject is doing something you love, tell them! Better yet, ask them to repeat the action that you love with small variations (different eye line, different angles, etc.) so you have a variety of that action to choose from later on and so they know that they are doing a great job.
Make it a point to show your excitement for the pictures you are taking. If you aren’t excited, why should your subject be? When I love the images that I am making, I show it. I look at an image on my camera and say something like, “HECK YES! These are awesome!” That shows my subject that they are doing a killer job and will keep them excited about the images.
Most of us these days are shooting with digital cameras which means that there is no harm in snapping a frame or two that you may not end up using. When I am working with someone who works into a pose that I know I won’t use, I keep clicking anyways. I call these “courtesy clicks.” Instead of stopping and telling them to change (which may be a confidence shaker), I just keep shooting because I know that they will work their way out of it in a few frames.
Never tell your model that they are doing something wrong. Ever. Don’t even think about it. Instead of saying, “Don’t do that” or “That doesn’t look good,” tell them what you want them to do instead by saying something like, “Let’s do more of this.” This will get them back to moving in the direction that you want without them knowing that they got off track.
That’s right. Praise in here twice. It is that important. Letting your subject know that they are doing a great job can give them the confidence to keep it up and to step it up a notch. Praise, praise, praise!
For those interested in one of my more in depth articles about directing, feel free to read it here: Don't Pose, Give Direction. Also, I will be hosting an in depth and hands-on workshop called FOSTER this June in Los Angeles with Jordan Voth! If you are interested attending, click on the image below to learn more about it.