Building Rapport With Your Subjects
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Old 03-12-2007   #1
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Default Building Rapport With Your Subjects

I received an email last week from a gentleman who bought my video and I feel his questions may be yours also.

Hi Ben,

I've watched your DVD twice now and have enjoyed it each time. It was great to read your tutorials over on PhotoCamel, but seeing the actions just seems to make it so much clearer, so thanks for putting in the time to put something like this together.

Another area that I would really like to learn more on is the area of communication and rapport building with one's subject, be it a senior, a model or simply someone that wants a portrait......there isn't a whole lot of information out there on how to extract the very best from your subject......suggestions?

Kind regards,

Thor

Dear Thor,

I glad you liked my DVD, and thanks for the kind words. Now on to your question, and an excellent question it is.

I usually meet the subject at the door already knowing their name and I say "good to meet you Ashley" (or whatever their name is) "I'm Ben", and I offer a friendly handshake and a warm smile and offer to help them carry their clothes, props, etc., back to the camera room all the while saying things like "nice guitar" or "wow, lots of great looking clothes, this is REALLY going to be an exciting session." They NEED to hear that YOU are as excited about their session as they are. I have upbeat music playing already and after a few moments of small talk as I go through their clothing choices I request that they slip into the first outfit.

I start out by showing them the lights that are above, beside and (especially) behind them since they may be curious what you are doing behind them after they have been seated. RESIST the urge to look down the back of their pants, down the front of their blouses or up their skirts while you are posing and photographing them. THEY MUST TRUST YOU 100%. If they sense (or know) you are some guy who gets his jollies being a voyeur, their trust in you as a person (and as a professional) will be quickly eroded. Women have a sixth sense about men.

Offer sincere compliments on anything you see that is worthy of a sincere compliment. DON'T fake a compliment as they will know you are not being totally honest with them. Saying "you have beautiful hair" (if it is) will get you points for being so observant (especially if you are a guy!) She may have just spent $60.00 with her beautician and by you noting it she will be pleased and impressed. Pleased that someone else noted her hair, and it was a guy no less!!!!

LOOK for the little things SHE has done to make her session more successful like having her nails done up nicely, her beautiful jewelry she brought along, the fact that she brought lots of props or clothes etc., and compliment and thank her her on those areas. These things will not only make her look good, but it will also make your photography look good also.

A well posed and beautifully lit portrait can be ruined by little things like her hair was not cooperating, her fingernails are bitten down to the quick and practically bleeding, her make up was not done properly. It is up to you to hide or disguise these things and also watch for other things like a necklace that is crooked, a wristwatch that glares in the lights, straggly hair, wrinkles or distracting folds in her clothing etc.

Keep a flow of conversation going and make it all about her. Ask her if she is going to college; what will she be studying while there (other than boys!) and where does she hope this schooling will lead her after she graduates (especially if she is getting a degree in underwater basket weaving or something Ask her her boyfriend's name (use it later on when you need a really great smile) if she says she doesn't have one tell her the boys at ______high (her school) must be blind! This subtly tells her you think she is attractive (but DON'T flirt with her, ever.) Ask her about her extracurricullar activities. Does she play basketball, volleyball, is she a cheerleader (how did the favorite sports team at school do this year) what is her favorite subject in school, her favorite teacher and why is he (or she) her favorite. Does she have a favorite professional sports team. Does she have a job lined up for this summer (or did she work during this past summer) etc. Think back when you were in high school and what was important to you back then and then you will be able to ask relevant questions.

As you can see none of this is rocket science, just good relational skills toward people.

Benji


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Old 03-26-2007   #2
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Default Re: Building Rapport With Your Subjects

Great post Benji! Thanks for the info!
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Old 05-08-2007   #3
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Some good advice there Benji - thanks for posting it. It was I that sent the original email and I'm glad to see that there aren't any great psychological tricks required I feel I'm going to learn a lot on this forum. It's such a shame that I'm only on a dialup link at home though (that's all I can get as the infrastructure isn't in place for broadband yet - this is Ireland after all). But the info. on this forum is worth the pain!

Thanks,
Thorsten.
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Old 09-11-2007   #4
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Default Re: Building Rapport With Your Subjects

Thanks for sharing this Benji!! It was very informative and gave me a lot of ammo for my next go! I found myself struggling for something to say and it lead to IMO akward silience here and there. I certtainly didn't want to sound like a drill instructor saying nothing but move your arm here ect..

Very good stuff!

Jay
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Old 10-01-2007   #5
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Great advice. I'm new to this board and have found all your tutorials to be very helpful!


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