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Layering Confidence on Top of Approachability

For me, the C&A thing came into play very early on in my career. I realized way back that confidence comes from the eyes and approachability comes from the mouth. Combining the two is what we need to do to make this fly.

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Neil Corcoran

Now, we get into the eyes in the chapter on squinching (Chapter 9), and we’ll talk in detail about the mouth in the chapter on smiling (Chapter 8), so what we’re looking at briefly here is layering the two together. We’re adjusting people’s eyes and mouths and directing them toward this stuff, until they get it. Remember, we are their mirror! We have to tell them what their face is doing and have them continually tweak their expression until we see something we truly like. Once they get started down this path and we build some trust, they start getting it and we can begin to relax the direction a bit, so eventually they will begin to own the experience. I do work on the confidence first with the squinch, but if they’re not adding a slight smile to bring approachability to the mouth, they’re going to be falling flat.

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Norma Aurel

I couple the two together by directly telling them to do this at the beginning of the shoot. As the shoot evolves, they usually get it, embrace it, and enjoy it. It’s easier said than done to get the eyes and mouth to behave the way you want simultaneously. Usually, when I speak to them about their mouth, their eyes widen, and when I speak about their eyes, their mouth falls flat, so it may take some time for them to key in on this. They’re seeing the pictures come up on my screen because shooting tethered is my most powerful coaching tool. Seeing is believing and it builds their confidence, giving them a sense that they are pointed in the right direction. As this confidence builds and the shoot goes on, they usually start to show signs that they are able to own it. Getting control of their muscles and working the magic in by giving me the looks I’m seeking happens a lot faster if they can see for themselves whether they are doing it properly or not.

Don’t think that LCD on the back of your camera is an acceptable form of showing them in order to improve their confidence. To me, it’s not useful unless you are in a pinch. Everyone looks good on a small screen like that. You need the real deal to be able to properly convey what they are doing, right or wrong. I take my Aero tether table and cables from Tether Tools everywhere I go. If you are shooting a headshot, you should be rather stationary, so I recommend working out a tethered solution, or at least have a setup where your shots get transferred to an iPad using some sort of Wi-Fi solution. It’s extremely rare, if at all, that you catch me shooting to a CF card when shooting headshots. Tethering is an integral part of my workflow and there’s no way I’m going to have the progress that I have in a short time with my clientele without being tethered. If you haven’t tried it yet, I suggest you do. Currently, my favorite capture software is Capture One Pro, and it’s definitely a worthwhile investment.

The only time I would dissuade you from tethering is if your work needs work. Show them as little as possible if you aren’t technically savvy yet. Work on that first and then go to the tethered solution. If your base images need a ton of work in Photoshop, you aren’t playing the game properly. I’m happy to post all of my images straight out of camera to the web without batting an eyelash and you should be, too. Once you are at that point, then you know that you are on the right track and should be showing your clients everything that you are doing using a tethered solution. In the future, we’ll be shooting these suckers over Wi-Fi like you wouldn’t believe, and then you’ll be free to roam, but for now, tether it up!

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