The perfect justification for carrying two cameras? Instaxgrams.
Kyle Steed’s Instaxgrams are portraits shot half on Instax and half on Instagram.
He starts by taking a photo with his Instax and then holding that print up in front of the same subject and shooting it with his phone.
TIP: This project works with *any* kind of camera. Just get a photo printed, and go back to the same spot.
INSPIRATION: Get inspiration at Dear Photograph. (Thanks @moraima_photo!) Or try it digitally. See our tutorial on See-Through Photo Gadgets. Kyle Steed’s Instaxgrams
As a professional photographer, people will ask you to shoot all sorts of things… and it won’t always be gorgeous models or extremely interesting street scenes. One of the biggest sources of revenue for me personally is in shooting portraits of regular people who need photos for all sorts of things. I also get asked by magazines to shoot regular people for lifestyle stories, so it’s important to get a final image that looks natural and not contrived. The problem is that most people are not very comfortable being photographed, which makes getting a natural looking portrait somewhat of a challenge.
Personally, I am not a big fan of portraits that look stiff or posed. Sometimes it can work in the right context, but more often than not it looks awkward. There are several things that I do to avoid this while keeping my subject feeling comfortable:
1. Get to know your subject.
(Emeline Piot, Fashion Stylist)
I always, always, always talk to the person I’m photographing. About life. About music. About the weather. Whatever. I like to get a conversation going because it gets a rapport going - and a photographer must have a rapport with the subject. Talking helps people relax and frequently helps you learn something about them which can in turn help you make a stronger portrait. I would say I chat with subjects for at least 15 minutes before I even take out my camera. That way the ice is broken before we start shooting.
The above image is of Emeline Piot, a very talented (and adorable) fashion stylist based here in Paris, who I was photographing for Marie Claire. It turns out that Emeline hates to have her picture taken, so I wanted to make her as comfortable as possible. We joked and talked about life while I photographed her for a couple of hours, and at the end of the shoot I had her sit down at a cafe and that’s how I got this shot. After she felt comfortable.
2. Allow some prep and warm-up time.
(Alexandra Guerre-Joly, Photo Editor, BE Magazine)
The worst thing you can possibly do on a portrait shoot is to show up and whip out your camera. One key to shooting a “natural” looking portrait is evaluating the space you are shooting in, whether it be outside, at the subject’s home, or at the subject’s office. If you don’t take the time to choose a good setting for your subject and analyze available light in relation to that setting, your portraits will look rushed and awkward. It may actually even take you longer to shoot rather than if you had just spent 20 minutes looking around in the first place.
For the above shot, the story was on successful women who are addicted to shoes. After touring Alexandra’s gorgeous Parisian apartment, I decided that in front of her shoes was quite fitting.
3. Movement is a good thing.
(Isabel Marant, Fashion Designer)
As photographers, we often want our images to be as crisp and sharp as possible. But alas, straying from the scholarly path can actually make for a great portrait. I had the pleasure of shooting Isabel Marant a few years back and, while I have many other shots of her, this one is my favorite. For me, the movement and motion blur are what makes it a “real moment.”Try walking around with your subject and photographing them at the same time. Sometimes, mid-action makes a far better portrait than if the subject were still.
4. It’s OK to smile.
Many portrait photographers have a profound belief that asking your subject to smile makes for a cheeeeeeeezy portrait - which is not technically untrue. Except for the fact that 9 times out of 10, if you send a client a smiley photo within the selection they take it. Take the previous photo of Isabel Marant for example: the fact that she’s laughing makes it happy. And fun.
Instead of going for dead-on cheese, ask your subject to fake laugh. It sounds stupid, but it really works. You can also tell jokes if you think you’re funny enough to make the subject laugh naturally. Not all photographers are funny. Keep this in mind.
5. Provide direction.
(Valerie Laderriere, Creative Director, L’Oreal China)
Most people don’t know which is their good side, bad side or best angle. They also don’t know if they have a weird mouth or eye twitch every time you press the shutter. Providing your subject with ample direction helps you get the shot while helping your subject feel reassured. I usually tell my subjects to follow my finger with their nose, chin or eyes to get the exact position I want. For portraits, it’s important to pay attention to details such as hand position (claw hands are the worst), slouchy shoulders or bulging fabric. It’s the type of thing that can ruin your portrait when you think it’s great, and you only realize when it’s too late.
For more photography help and how-to’s, check out I Still Shoot Film’s Help & How-To page.