It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it that makes a big difference in your portrait shots

Above: Image by Gina Milicia

The energy you bring to a shoot is going to have a huge impact on the person you are photographing so it’s really important that you check your mood, body language and tone during a portrait shoot. It’s not what you say that matters. It’s how you say it and here’s why.

Have you ever been served in a cafe by a waiter who would rather be at home watching Game of Thrones? Or a shop assistant who has memorised the shop assistants’ generic greetings but just forgot to care about what she was saying along the way?

The waiter is polite, gets the coffee order correct and even smiles at the appropriate times. As far as serving coffee 101 goes, this guy has totally nailed it. The problem here, and it’s nothing he said or did, is that the energy or care factor isn’t there. He did not go out of his way to make you feel special. 

The shop assistant also ticks every box in the “How to serve a customer guide”. She greets you with a smile and asks you how your day is going, then asks if she can help you with anything. The problem here, is that her delivery is flat, she doesn’t look you in the eye and checks a message on her phone as she is speaking to you. 

Now, I don’t need to feel special to enjoy my coffee or the new shoes I just bought but I do remember the people who serve me with positive energy and show a genuine interest in me as a human rather than another sale. The other upside of a positive experience is that when the waiter or shop assistant go for the upsell, I’m more likely to say yes because I like them and liking them makes it easier to trust them.

So, when it comes to photographing people, I believe my language, tone and energy are more important than my camera settings and lighting. I can nail the exposure and lighting but the image will always fall flat if I can’t get the right pose or expression from my model.


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About Gina

About Gina

Gina Milicia is one of the most widely known and respected photographers in Australia. She is the master of capturing that ‘magical moment’... READ MORE

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