Learning to Build Rapport and Nurture Relationships With Your Subjects for Better Portrait Photography

Sometimes sourcing good equipment for portrait photography simply isn't enough. You also need to learn how to connect to the people in front of your camera. But how can you improve that?

Portrait photography, whether it is a powerful story telling environmental portrait or an intimate and personal fine art portrait of someone, is a field that is not easy to master quickly. While you may have a highly reviewed camera and lens combination and perhaps a fully kitted out studio with dreamy backdrops, that does not guarantee that you will be a skilled portrait photographer. Portraits tell a story not only about the person in front of the lens but also of the person who is taking the photograph. Your signature, which consists of your personality, skills, and vision, will work together as you create a portrait. So, if learning fool-proof lighting techniques and getting the latest equipment isn't enough, what else can you work on to improve?

In this video, Canon Europe is collaborating with portrait photographer, Oded Wagenstein, to tell us how he has worked on himself, not just as a photographer, but as a person, to learn how to tell honest and intimate stories of people from different communities all over the world. His way of approaching subjects can translate across many genres, whether you simply want to improve your ability to capture your friends and family or if you are working in the portraiture genre as a professional, be it in a studio or all over the world. Exploring what meaningful portraiture is and how it translates in the real world can be an incredibly useful for anyone whose hobby or work relates to people based photography.

Which of Wagenstein's tip resonated with you the most?

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Steve Powell's picture

As a portrait photographer I find that building a rapport with the model increases the chances of getting good photos.

George Hull's picture

This is such an important video and blog. I was just responding to a much older post on this very subject. While listening to a podcast, a photographer once said that he was on a flight with a man who had just gotten married and spent a few thousand on a wedding photographer. When asked if he printed any, the groom said no. He said the photos were amazing but... the ones he ended up printing were the ones taken on an iPhone by friends and family. The problem wasn't that the photographer wasn't skilled, or that the photos were bad, or that the technical stuff wasn't right... the problem was that the photographer didn't build a relationship with the bride or groom. He didn't know them the way friends and family knew them. Using your camera as a tool to connect people to the things that matter most in their lives helps so much more to capture those real moments.