How To Take Great Portraits Without Showing A Face

Have you ever had a great idea that you can’t wait to try out on a client? You want to place a child just so, with a certain background, and achieve a certain result? Then the client yells out, “Look at the camera, smile, bigger smile, come on smile…” You get the drift. Nothing is more frustrating than having your idea sour because a parent wants her two year old child to pose and smile perfectly for the camera.

For me, there’s something innocent about a child that a smile simply ruins. A two year old has huge eyes that speak volumes – who needs a smile to see that? And if you truly want a two year old to smile, why not have them giggle as loud and as hard as they can. That’s a true two year old spirit!

And of course it doesn’t stop at the age of two. What about a teenager deep in thought while reading a book? Why have her look up – why not capture her doing what she loves the best?

Sometimes a photograph is so much more if you simply don’t capture the face. If you don’t focus on the eyes. And you don’t get that big smile. Sometimes a photograph is so much more if you capture the person’s soul, doing exactly what they want to do. What they have a passion for. That’s where you start separating from a picture taker, and dive into the world of photographic artistry.

Selling the Concept

People have a preconceived notion about photography. They expect the turn, look at the camera and say cheese idea because that’s what they’ve done ever since they were children. When they come to your studio, they expect the same thing because that’s what they are primed for. You may have better backdrops, better lighting, and take better photographs, but it still should have the subjects smiling at the camera, right?

The only way to get away from this concept is to train your clients not to expect that. Take those photographs off the walls of your studio, and out of your sample albums. Pull them off your website and out of your marketing tools. You will only sell what you show – because that’s what they expect.

If you want to get away from showcasing the cheesy smiles, you have to show what you offer instead. Only then will your clients expect something new.

With your next client, take the standard shots for them. Then spend 10 minutes shooting for you. How can you tell a story? How can you show their souls? Don’t worry if they don’t buy it; the whole point is to get your samples going. Then take down the standard images, and replace them with your new images. The more you put up, the more calls you’ll get wanting your new style of photography.

1 thought on “How To Take Great Portraits Without Showing A Face”

  1. I was the photographer for a baby contest a few months ago, I had about 80 babies to photograph and of course, all of the parents wanted the biggest smiles! When editing, I was looking through them and most of my favorites were the ones of the babies who were not smiling, but rather observing! They were beautiful.



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