Before you get comfortable in front of the camera, you need to be comfortable with yourself, says fashion photographer Denzil Sequeira. “It’s difficult to achieve, but it’s best to be yourself in front of the camera. Many people tend to be conscious of themselves in a negative way, which makes them shy, or in a positive way, which looks contrived and over the top,” he says.
Sequeira says the best way first-timers can achieve this is by “sitting in front of a mirror, taking a look at yourself and analysing which expressions and angles suit you the best”. Also, do your homework, he says. Take cues from good international magazines, which will give you ideas as to what looks good and what is just awkward. Sequeira also says a good photograph is a matter of self-confidence. “Be confident of yourself in the way you look and move.”
It’s key to find a photographer who will have patience with first-timers, and time to spare for them. “I would suggest several meetings between the photographer and the subject. That’s when they can get comfortable with each other and decide on where to shoot, whether to use artificial or available light, what clothes to wear and whether the subject needs make-up or not,” Sequeira says.
For people who have had no experience with a professional photographer, a studio shoot or a totally alien environment can be disconcerting. “The best thing to do would be to shoot in an environment which is comfortable for the subject, such as their home or office,” Sequeira says. But try not to have fixed ideas on how and where you should shoot. “A photographer has to shoot the subject as a human being. It’s not always necessary to portray them in a particular manner. Try to think out of the box to get a good, natural shot—an executive on the beach in a T-shirt isn’t so bad,” he says.
And even though the thought of a fully made-up face may sound unappealing to most people, it is sometimes necessary to get a great photograph. “Good artists use a lot of make-up and you can’t see it at all.” No one will know if you don’t tell.