Mindfulness and the art of shooting portraits

No matter who the subject is, the opening conversation on most portrait shoots goes a little something like this 'just so you know, I don't like having my photo taken" or 'just so you know, I don't know how to smile'. Making people feel 'relaxed' and 'at ease' is a big part of shooting a good portrait, but to be honest, I am not much of a comedian and I don't really have a formula, until recently that is....

Being a Yoga and meditation teacher, I have noticed recently that on some shoots I have intuitively started using some of my 'mindful meditation' techniques to make the subject feel more 'present' and more 'at ease'. The basic dynamic behind 'mindful meditation' is to make people more aware of what they are 'feeling' from one moment to the next. This requires a 'letting go' of any attachment to past, or future outcomes, and allowing your attention to rest on bodily sensations such as the movement of the breath. 

When most people are being photographed they are initially experiencing some level of anxiety as to what the final outcome of the photo will be. Their attention is very much placed on the future outcome. This anxiety is translated into their body and posture, and the tell tale signs are a hardening of the face,  and a tightening of the neck,shoulders and chest. To make the subject feel more relaxed and 'at ease' I ask them to soften parts of their body for eg. softening their temples and brow. I also ask them to soften their neck, shoulders and chest and become more aware of their breathing. As soon as they start to become aware of tactile sensations of hardness/softness in their body and in the energetic layer of the breath, all sorts of magic starts to happen, and then it's up to me to know when to press that shutter. 

That's exactly what happened on this shoot below, where I was credited with helping Guy 'find his smile again'.

For quotes and availability contact Angelo on: ak@akfotography.net