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FAST CLASS: Portraits Under Pressure

Lesson 8 of 19

How to Connect with Your Subject

Victoria Will

FAST CLASS: Portraits Under Pressure

Victoria Will

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Lesson Info

8. How to Connect with Your Subject

Lesson Info

How to Connect with Your Subject

It's so easy to get caught up in the photography of it. It's so easy. I mean, we all do it and you have to remind yourself to step out of it. It's not about the camera, it's not about the lighting, it's about the portrait. And to me, that's the collaboration and the connection that I'm getting. And as we could create these moments together, um, I also think it's really important to think about shoots, that it's not actually about what your subject can do for you. I sort of feel like JFK when I say that. But it is about what you bring to the chutes. It's not Oh, I hope the subject comes and I hope they're wearing great outfit and I hope they're in a good mood. And I hope because if you come in and you present yourself in ah and you gave good energy, it's automatically going to change the vibe. I've had subjects come in having really tough days, and they left smiling and then you know that you have had an impact on how that shoot went. Also, when you're sitting down with someone, and as ...

we talked about um, making in connection with somebody is important and it's not that easy for everybody. And when somebody comes into your studio and they sit down and we've talked about how uncomfortable that can be and you know your job to make them comfortable, you have Teoh, um, think about being present. Being present is really important, and I'm going to sort of explain how I get there and one of the ways this person comes in and sits here. And if I start bombarding them with questions that this kind of awkward right and it's it's also me taking, taking, taking, taking. That's why I say it's important to give. First, it's more important to give if you open up about something in your life, they're gonna be more likely to open up about something in there. So when your present and your actually here in the studio and you're focused in your president the right way, meaning you're not worrying about the light, and I hope this fire is in this when you're actually present and your with your subject. That's the only way that a real connection can be made. So earlier when ah, question was asked about doing research. This is my answer. I wanted to give it to you. Now. I don't do research about people, because when I ask a question, it's because I'm genuinely interested. And I want to know the answer. Obviously, I know Brad Pitt is five Children, so because I think you might live in a hole if you didn't know that, But so there is obviously information out there that we do know about. But I'm not going to go in and see where this person went to college and where they're from and they're married, you and how many kids and what movies they've been in, because that's part of a really interaction. That's how I make an interaction genuine, because I literally don't know what's going on. Most of the time, I don't even know why I'm photographing them, and I don't know if it's because I have a movie coming out or a record or a CEO is taking over company or Chef has a new rest. I don't know. So that's a question. Why are we here? That's like, it's a great place to start when you want to connect with somebody and, you know, maybe the answer is Oh, I'm opening a restaurant next week. We'll great. Well, tell me about it. I want to know about it. I'm sure that they want to talk about it. Um, you know, connecting with people is is it is about being a people person. Then were not all born people, people, people, people, persons. But you do have to take steps. I think if you want to be important photographer, you have Teoh take steps to become that. And again, it's that blind I used earlier. You have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. You have to find when somebody comes into your studio, you have to find that. Hey, nice dog. Your dog is so cute. What is that? And so when I, um when Sarah came in in our first shoot, the first thing I noticed was her nails. And I really like to get my nails done. So I was genuinely curious if she knew what the color was because I could start rattling off colors of nail polish all the time. That's an immediate way that I connected to a stranger. That's definitely not everybody's approach right now. Color is not for everybody, but with every person in your studio, you have to connect. And the easiest way to do that is to think about things that affect all of us as humans. Our love for animals, our love for our Children, our spouses. Are we getting married? You know, are, um I have a boyfriend. You know, obviously you have to be sensitive to these things. You have to gauge it. But people tend to like to talk about those things could tell you I talked about when I was getting married. A lot. I was dying to have. Somebody asked me about my wedding. I was so excited about it. Um, and everyone has that. And I'm sure you do, too. You should think about what it is. If somebody asks you about your dogs. I know you said that your dogs are like your Children and immediate look at her right now. You guys, she's glowing. We already have a reaction. That's what you're going for. So you need to see that. And when you're in the studio or when you're with a subject, you want to re create those moments there already happening there already natural there already. The things that people are going to do anyway, and you just have to get them there. Dorothea Lange When she waas Um, teaching her first assignment for students was always the same, and it was to send out her students to take a portrait of somebody without putting them in the photograph. It's very similar, very intriguing idea, and it's the sort of collection of data that I'm talking to you about and sort of this being detective is sort of the same thing. We're piecing together all of these pieces to tell, to inform us as the photographer of who this person is, and by doing that we can connect. So when you talk about body language, there are gifts of people give you just like I was saying, If the couples holding hands, you know in there the just naturally interacting and that's how I start with people, I really think you should look at what people are already doing

Class Description


Try a Fast Class – now available to all Creator Pass subscribers! Fast Classes are shortened “highlight” versions of our most popular classes that let you consume 10+ hours in about 60 minutes. We’ve edited straight to the most popular moments, actionable techniques, and profound insights into bite-sized chunks– so you can easily find and focus on what matters most to you. (And of course, you can always go back to the full class for a deep dive into your favorite parts.)

Full-length class: Portraits Under Pressure with Victoria Will

SUBSCRIBE TO CREATOR PASS and cue up this class and other FAST CLASS classes anytime.


  • Leverage new techniques for choosing the light and locations for a successful portrait
  • Know how to build a rapport and utilize clear communication with your subjects
  • Set up a developed concept as well as how to light on the fly
  • Use successful strategies for marketing yourself as a photographer and how to get your work in front of editors


Portraits require more than just great lighting and equipment. Sometimes a shoot doesn’t go as planned. The location is drab, the client isn’t in the best mood, or you forget to charge your camera batteries. Great portrait photography artists are able to think on their feet, connect with their subjects -- and capture great images under pressure. The best portraits often come from portrait sessions that didn't go exactly as planned, when challenges turn into assets.

Celebrity portrait photographer Victoria Will shows you how to use your environment to capture a unique, sharp image that reflects the person in the portrait. She’ll also highlight how to quickly evaluate a less than perfect situation and make it work for you and your subject. Take your portraits from amateur to near Mona Lisa gallery worthy by learning how to shoot portraits under pressure.

You’ll watch Victoria photograph real people in limited settings, discovering multiple opportunities in a limited space. Learn her three portrait musts for preparation, point-of-view, and connection. Gain insight into how to make every frame count and how to get the shots the editor requested, as well as those that speak to your vision. Learn how to make your subject feel comfortable in only a few moments while capturing exquisite photo collections in Portraits Under Pressure.


The photographer looking to improve their portraiture through thoughtful lighting, creative techniques and leveraging the environment around you to get a consistent appearance.

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