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How can connections be created? How do others establish a feeling of closeness to another person? How do you break down those imaginary barriers that people put up, especially when you’re trying to capture a person’s true essence with a camera? Having a camera be pointed at you can definitely be intimidating, but you know who you truly are after seeing photos of yourself. Being a photographer, I have the pleasure of capturing people in their element, showcasing who they are as individuals. It doesn’t come without its challenges though. The main challenge when shooting with someone, especially someone I’ve never met in person, will always be about creating a connection.

For a shoot to go well, a quickly established, yet somewhat deep connection is vital. If you’re not able to interact face to face with the person you are shooting beforehand, you’ll see it reflected in your photos later. The person will look uncomfortable – forced smiles, stiff poses, and in the end, not so great images. On the other hand, if you’re able to speak with the person before, learn more about them, and create a connection, the photos will be better than you could have ever imagined, blowing your (and their) expectations out of the water.

One of the many, many reasons why I love being a photographer has to be establishing deep connections with the people I work with. Let’s dig into how I go about creating a connection all while operating behind the camera.

Photo By Al Garcia

Ask Questions 

At the end of the day, you don’t know what you don’t know. How do you find out more about someone? Ask. Ask questions. Speak up. See what makes them tick. Over communicate even. Establish a mutual understanding of one another. Figure out their likes, their dislikes, or maybe items that are off limits. Overall, there’s nothing worse than being on different pages with another person. Asking questions is the first step to getting to know a person on a deeper level – to understand where they are coming from, what they are looking to capture, and how they are looking to capture it. People have many layers to them – their interests, their occupation, their wins, their self-perceived “losses”, and all their collective experiences, all of which make them who they are. When done right and taking all of these items into account, photographs can paint a beautiful picture of a person’s true identity. You really learn a lot about a person through a photoshoot, and that’s another reason why I love this craft so much.

Mutual Interests 

How do you fast track creating a connection? Figure out if (and what) mutual interests you have with the individual you are working with. Sometimes it’s a shared interest area such as fitness, an artistic vision, or a particular idol or influence that drives them. Feeling the same way about an idea, a like, or dislike I’ve found can only deepen a relationship. It creates a rush of mutual happiness, which can lead to the feeling of flow, which I believe leads to a more successful shoot. It’s my favorite task when it comes to organizing and preparing for any shoot. In finding out these mutual interests, it makes me that much more excited to work with someone. If there isn’t any real mutual interest there, it makes it difficult to establish a connection quite honestly. It always will show itself when I review the images captured during that shoot. Any mutual interest leads to a sense of comfort and relatability. For example, when I shared a memory with a recent client, I found that we had more mutual friends than I thought, leading to more mutual interests. It’s these moments that keep the good vibes rolling and ultimately lead to more authentic imagery. 

Lead by Example 

If a client isn’t opening up, I try to lead by example. The client doesn’t set the tone, I set the tone. In sharing something that shows how deep I am as a person I’m allowing them to do the same. I’ve seen that creating an environment where sharing is not only allowed, but extremely encouraged will lead to feelings of comfort and closeness. Becoming vulnerable with someone, bringing those imaginary walls down, is a great way to show the comfort level you have with someone else. The more comfortable you feel with someone else, the better the final images. 

With no connection, a photoshoot is just that. It’s someone taking pictures of someone else. It’s a chore. It’s another task that becomes mundane. A connection makes a world of difference. It allows for a fun environment and creates an enjoyable experience that the individual will not forget. Creating a connection from behind the camera is a job in and of itself, but it’s one that is so fulfilling. With each shoot comes a new connection, a new story, and a new memory that bleeds into the next into the next, leaving me excited for the future. If you’re looking to make deep connections while having a blast, let’s work together. My door is always open.

Photo by Dylan Kim of Brevite

Connect with Dan and check out his work


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