Meaningful portraiture, resources?

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#1
I have a spark of motivation, but finding it hard to articulate and understand how to fan the flame..

I'm interested in kind of portraiture that captures the character or personality of the subject - when I think about it, I wonder that the photographer should probably do little to direct, but to actually talk to the subject - I wonder what I'd say to create the kind of image I want and when I'd actually take the photo. But I'm getting way to ahead of myself, as I don't really know the approach.

I also worry that my personality is not social/interested enough to play my own part in this.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this, or have a direction to point me?
 
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Ian
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#2
If you know what kind of image you want - you need to direct, and in some cases, direction is helpful. Turns of the head, lifting of chins, removal of slouches etc. Ultimately though I need to engage my subject so much that they forget I'm pointing a camera at them - and that's more important than anything - in my opinion...

Consider developing a bunch of "conversation ideas" too. I tend to ask people what they most enjoy doing (hobbies etc) and what their favourite things are. What they do for a living - that sort of thing. Once they reply with something they're interested in, explore it & develop it. Whilst they're thinking, a range of expressions and eye movements will be going on, and as time passes, you'll start to spot the "character" expressions. Think of those closest to you, and the expressions that typify them. I'm most acquainted with my wife's "I'm amused but disapproving of what you just said" look which I often try and recreate.

Also, consider developing something to get people relaxed and forgetting about the camera. I start by getting people's head position right, no slouching, chin up, then whilst they're all rigid and terrified, I start talking to them about Peter Hurley's "squinch" and how they can look all "Brad Pitt" if they exercise that muscle in their lower eyelid. I give a few examples, bring the camera up, then carry on talking them through it. Whilst they're pulling faces and you're taking pictures, everyone gets used to each other and before you know it, they relax (and so do you). Doesn't always work - some people are just too terrified of being in front of a camera, and some people just don't find me funny, but it works more often than not. I never really use the images -it's more about relaxing than squinching, but later in the session you can ask for a squinch and always get a natural smile (or frown - it's guaranteed to make my wife angry!). Find your squinch... :)

I found Andy Gotts' book "Degrees" to be a fab resource. The images are brilliant, but the anecdotes are also very interesting. Also - Peter Hurley did a video about the psychology part of headshotting which I can't find. I remember him saying that it's almost 90% psychology and it's so true. The best portrait people on my courses are always the best "people" people and rarely the best photographers. Like everything though it can be practised.

And that's my tuppence. :)
 
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#3
I found Andy Gotts' book "Degrees" to be a fab resource. The images are brilliant, but the anecdotes are also very interesting. Also - Peter Hurley did a video about the psychology part of headshotting which I can't find. I remember him saying that it's almost 90% psychology and it's so true. The best portrait people on my courses are always the best "people" people and rarely the best photographers. Like everything though it can be practised.

And that's my tuppence. :)
Thanks for all that, I will have a look into the book and give it all some more thought.

Conversation is certainly something I need practice at :D
 
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