Types of Portrait Subject

I have shot probably a thousand or more people since I started photography. As i have observed, yes, people behave differently in front of the camera.

There are those who are very at ease! And there are those who are on the opposite side, very very shy.

Alex Garcia, a photojournalist for the Chicago Tribune, came up with 4 different types of portrait subjects. This information is a great help in portrait photography.  Learning our subject’s/subjects’ type will make it easier for us to adjust what strategy or approach we will use to make them at ease and relax and therefore capture the best moments.

Here are the 4 different types of portrait subjects according to Alex:

  1. People who have had their photos taken a zillion times — or at least enough to know how to behave in front of a camera.
  2. People who have not had their photos taken in a professional-type setting, but have always wanted to. Think of people who would stand in line to be the subject of a reality show. They too know how to relax and be natural in front of a camera (a little scary).
  3. People who have had their photos taken, and it’s not a big deal, although in a professional setting they may begin to freeze up.
  4. People who absolutely hate to have their pictures taken.

Well of course I have worked with a lot of Type 1 and 2 . But in general, I think majority is Type 3. It used to be Type 4 during the age of film photography, thou. But we are digital now so people are more accustomed and camera is very handy nowadays. Less people are shy now!

It is a vision for me as a photographer to move people, or my clients,  from Type 4 to 1! That is why from time to time, I do fun collaboration openshoots with my stylist friends.  We are not only able to train people to behave better in front of the lens, but also behave properly in professional photoshoot setting.  Same thing is achieved during prenup photoshoots. The engaged couple gets to experience being in front of the lens prior to wedding date, making them feel a lot at ease on the big day.

Well, as a sample, since I mentioned prenup, here is a prenup shot, a favorite of mine.

Hmm… I think I will post a gallery of this prenup tomorrow. =)


Resources :

Alex Garcia

Scott Webb