Being on the other side of the camera…

Posted on May 8, 2013


One thing everyone knows me for is avoiding at all costs being in front of a camera. In very rare instances, I let images be taken. Most of the time, I don’t. But that isn’t why I am writing this post. Instead, it is about why you as photographers need to get in front of a camera and experience what it is like to get your own image captured by another photographer.

The first thing that usually goes through your head when you, yourself, are a subject is “OMG!” and then having to lose weight and finding the right clothes and maybe even getting your hair cut. I look horrible and why would anyone want my image captured? What do they see in me? These are the physical reasons why you don’t want to get an image taken. Everyone goes through this to some extent. The easiest thing to do is just push through this. Either you do or you don’t. As a photographer, always encourage your subject.

The next thing is making time – when will I fit it in. How will I get it done. Will I be late? Or, will I be super early? Again, in many cases, this is anxiety about having your image shot. Some people will avoid scheduling as a way to get out of the session. Others avoid showing up – and flake on the shoot. Some people are just super are just super vigilant about being on time. I usually ask people to be there 15 minutes early. More than a half hour or being late indicates there may be a problem. It could even be misjudging time it takes to get from point a to point b. It could be something else. Talk with your subject and know this is going on in their mind.

Ok, you are there and about to take pictures. Clothing and styling has been done. What do I do with my face? Hands? Feet? Again, short of being a model, many people have this problem. Even I had to borrow a few minutes to figure out which muscles did what for expressions. Everyone will feel awkward unless if they are in front of a camera frequently.  Guide your subject through poses and lean how to hide flaws through posing. Oops! Didn’t mean to do that. What? You want me to do what? You get to see some of the communication problems you encounter from the other side of the camera – why some things work in giving directions, and others that do not. Depending on the images taken, you can also be sore after the shoot from being a model.

The biggest value in getting in front of a camera is to realize what it is like for others to get in front of your camera. What are they experiencing? What makes it better for them? Learn from this experience.

One of the things that my recent photographer was surprised at was how the images captured make an interesting stop motion video, sort of like a cartoon. Part of this is because I push models to learn this technique – change only one thing in each click of the shutter and move through posing like you are acting. So, even with you on the other side of the camera, the photographer may learn something from you, too.