We write a lot about the skyrocketing innovations in camera ISOs, that one piece of lighting that’s super portable and perfect for any occasion, that one little accessory you didn’t know you needed—and all of those are great, even essential—but what we don’t talk about often enough is what it really takes to capture someone’s portrait, beyond the tools of the trade.
It seems that these days, most people tend to feel safe projecting a certain image of themselves that isn’t necessarily true to who they really are, whether consciously or not; social media has undoubtedly fueled this sense of self-curation.
Have you ever heard clients tell you that they don’t like photos of themselves? UK-based photographer and filmmaker Sean Tucker has heard it countless times. To this, he cites a quote he heard once: “Every portrait is a war between the sitter’s vanity and the photographer’s guile.”
To Tucker, this means that “your subject is going to want to make sure that you capture the persona that they want you and the rest of the world to see,” he says, “but you as the photographer have to be clever and aware and sneaky enough to capture the chink in the armor that reveals the real them.”
Every photographer has their methods—Tucker, for instance, will do the light setup trick, telling his subject to simply look at the camera as he tests out his lights, while he inconspicuously captures an unguarded expression and often, the best of the session. Check out the video below for more from Tucker on capturing honest expressions.