Erin Manning is a professional photographer, teacher, and television personality living in Los Angeles, California. Television viewers know Erin best as the digital photography expert and host of HGTV and DIY Network’s Telly-award-winning TV series The Whole Picture. She has also appeared as the techno-lifestyle guru on Enable Your Home and is author of Portrait and Candid Photography, published by Wiley. She helps people understand photography and technology by translating technical mumbo-jumbo into everyday words and by facilitating their learning with a clear, friendly teaching style. Whether in front of the camera or behind it, photography has always been a part of Erin’s life and synthesizes her experience and education in art, technology, and entertainment. She specializes in lifestyle imagery for clients such as AT&T, Bank of America, Disney, various lifestyle magazines, healthcare organizations, and individuals. Erin spent several years honing her craft by working as a commercial, portrait, and stock photographer, as well as working for Getty Images, and completing a degree in Studio Art/Graphic Design from Loyola Marymount University.
Some people are really uncomfortable in front of the camera—they aren’t sure what they’re supposed to do, and they’re afraid they’ll look bad. This can result in stiff, unnatural looking photographs. It’s your job as the photographer to help your subjects feel comfortable and relax. You can do this by talking, interacting, giving them direction and encouragement. When you are photographing people, you are in a relationship, whether it lasts for a few minutes, a few hours, or a lifetime. Following are five tips that can help you direct your subject and capture natural-looking portraits.
Have your subjects make a three-quarter turn to camera and shift their weight to the back leg. This position gives the body shape, dimension and makes them look slimmer.
Create a sense of movement in your photograph. Direct your subjects to shift their weight back and forth from one foot to the other.
Most people are uncomfortable in front of the camera. Help them out by giving them direction. Tell them they look great, give them feedback and interact. The positive energy will show in your photographs.
Tip 4 A real expression is always better than a fake one. To alleviate a frozen, unnatural smile, try my “Pufferfish” technique for relaxing your subject’s face. Do it together! Puff out your cheeks, hold, then blow it out. This exercise relaxes your face, and the goofy look is enough to make anyone laugh.
Tip 5 Portraits are traditionally shot a few degrees above your subject’s eyeline, but shoot from all different angles too. Mix it up and experiment!