If I had only one piece of advice for the amateur photographers out there, it would be to take personal photos. Explore the soul of your subject, and avoid “being objective”. Objectivity in a portrait is something that may or may not be obtainable; if you take personal photos, if you show the world through your eyes, then your personal photos will be remembered.
The opposite of personal photos are dull memories. I have seen the work of many photographers in the last years. What I can see from many boudoir photographers is a set of poses repeated over and over again in their portfolios. What is missing is that uniqueness in the person being photographed. So, what can you do to capture more personal photos, and why are they so important?
Stop photographing the model. Photograph the person.
I have been telling this for as long as I have photographed: focus on your subject. With this I mean that you should give all your attention to who you have in front of your eyes. Who that person is, what does she stands for, what is she afraid of. Every time you photograph a model, you have much more than just a model, you have a person in front of you. You should stop posing them and try to capture a static version of a hypothetical reality. You should start knowing the model in front of you and capture personal photos.
A beautiful pose is something we can all admire, but that we would never relate to. Personal photos, on the contrary, may not carry certain elements of perfection, but they convey emotions. Try to keep in mind that people will forget your face, your name and what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel. If your personal photos have the ability, in their being personal, to channel those emotions once more, you are on the path of immortality.
Personal photos should carry perfect imperfections
While growing up as photographer, I was used to mingle with other amateurs like me. I remember endless discussions on “the perfect photo”. Back then all evolved around light, poses and every detail that would have make the photo… perfect. I grew out of that idea very quickly. I saw photos as a meaning of showing a personal part of a person. Perfection is boring, perfection is cold and impersonal, personal photos are so much different. Personal photos may not tick all the boxes, but they have a different aim.
My two cents is that you should not aim for perfection, but for connection. If the subject of your photographs feel something strong by looking at their personal photos, then any imperfection isn’t important. Any imperfection is just part of what makes that photo unique.
If you want personal photos, be a people person
When I started doing photography I hadn’t realised how much photographing people would have meant being a psychologist. You have to learn to treat people well, making them feel “special” and capturing those special moments. Personal photos are nothing more that those moments in which your subjects are truly themselves. So, my advice is simple; stop thinking about poses and learn to focus more on your relation with your subjects. You won’t be reminded if you will deliver a photo composed perfectly; however, you won’t be forgotten if your photos will speak volumes about who your subjects truly are.