Connect & Create Rapport with Your Subject


Photographing Athletic Portraits


Lesson Info

Connect & Create Rapport with Your Subject

So, how to connect and create a rapport with your subjects. Everybody is different on this. My main thing for this is be yourself and do what works for you. Everybody is different in this. What works for me is not gonna necessarily work for you. I know some people really, really me. And I also know people who don't me a lot. Right, 'cause they don't my personality or whatever. So, what works for me? I personally to research the person I'm photographing and know as much as possible about them ahead of time. Like, I to know where they were born, where they were from, where they grew up. Do they have any kids? Do they have a dog? Do they hate animals? Are they divorced? Or all that stuff. I like to know all of that. A perfect example of that was I photographed, of all people, a politician, right, for the L.A. Times. So, I looked him up and I found out he went to Stanford, he got an award for playing sports, and then I found out that he met his wife at a laundry mat. Alright, then they mar...

ried forever. So, that's something. I personally to have something in my back pocket that I could bring up and strike a conversation or be able to evoke an emotion from my subject. That works for me. So, when I was photographing him in his office with nothing literally there, I engaged a conversation with him. We started talking and I was, "Damn, man." I was, "So, dude I've been single for ever. "I heard you picked up your wife at a laundry mat, "Is that true?" He's, "Yeah." I was, "Damn, you gotta teach me your game, dude. "So, I could get some later." (crowd laughs) He's alright, he loosened up, and he laughed. And he just started talking an all that. You just find, when you do stuff that, find common ground, something you both like. Speak in their native language. I photograph a lot of boxers. I do media days. When I see them, a lot of them are foreign or Hispanic, and they look a deer in headlights. And if I go up to them and speak Spanish to them it's when we have an instant connection. You know what I mean? Especially too, if they know boxing. 'Cause, when I tell them I'm Alexis, I'm from Nicaragua. I was named after Alexis Argüello, which is another boxer, that I have here, and oh, then boom. Instant connection. Instantly, that. The other thing that works for me is I show them my work. And the reason why I say that works for me, because I've been shooting this set for 12 years (mumbles) has a certain aesthetic to it and I photograph some people they recognize. So, this kinda how I showing my work. Like this, this is how I get work. And a lot of people like these books and I've gotten literally compliments from everybody. I get E, SportsIllustrated, New York Times, they really these portfolio books. They're from bayphoto. Bayphoto provides them right here. They're right here. I'll show them a little bit. And then these are also leave behinds that you have kinda promo cards. And I take an iPad too, to show any video work that I have too, as well. But, I will have this. I have this out when I meet editors and potential clients. I do this too, when I have personal work. If you were a ballet dancer or I did with a ballet, I would meet you for coffee, whatever. I would literally bring my work this and show it to you that. I'll treat it I mean it that and get them excited to work with me. And this is how I did that. This is the U.S. Women's team. When I photographed them I showed them the book I have, this is them looking at when they were getting their hair and makeup done. And I, personally, to show my work for reference so you can see two of my portraits right here. These are two setups I did with them. The portrait pack and then another fitness image I did. Had that tied up and I showed them that. So, why does that help, for example? So, Carli Lloyd saw my work when I was photographing them and she came up to me and she said, "Wow, Alexis, I really the work that you do. "It's really great." And I had ten minutes with each player. Carlid my work and told me that and she gave me half an hour. And she was super cool, so that really worked in my favor and that works for me. So, and again, why am I specifically saying that, that works for me? 'cause... I photograph people who recognize, for this it's perfect. Is I was showing them what I did with them. And last year and I'm, "Okay, "This is what I did with the men, ladies." I was, "Okay, let's totally kick their ass this year and let's do something a lot better. And I told them I only had one minute with each. I got ten minutes for you guys, so we can make it ten times better. and they could... You see what I'm about, right? If you're just starting out and your work's maybe not that solid that could maybe work against you, right? If you're trying to persuade someone to do it. So, that's why I always say that's what works for me. Also, again with the, let me go back to the other one. Right here. I to research and know who I am ahead of time. Some other photographers, they say, "I to know nothing about my subject." Right? Because, for some reason, the people believe the first ten minutes you meet somebody are the most honest, or any of that stuff. I don't believe that at all. I believe the first ten minutes you meet someone are the most insincere moments ever, 'cause you can put up a front. But, they say they don't to know anything about it so they can listen and hear what they say. That does not work for me, because I'm a guy and I don't listen. When people talk I don't listen. I to know them ahead of time, research them. So, I know myself pretty well. I know that if someone introduces themselves to me and they tell me their name I'm gonna forget it. And so, I have to consciously remember. And I that I don't listen well certain times, 'cause my mind's wandering around 100 different ways. So, what works for me is doing my research and knowing my subject ridic, left and right. And having a conversation with stuff that they've done in the past. So, if they have a dog or anything. But, if the other thing works for you and fits your personality do that. Rock what works best for you. Know who you are. So, I'm gonna go again and kinda show you all the books that I have. These are all in the process of being kinda upgraded. This is three books that I have. This is the one. I have made one just specifically for boxing, 'cause I've shot so much boxing. And let me show you the other ones. So, I have one right here which is my main one, which needs to be updated, which I'm a bit in a few weeks 'cause I'm going to New York to show my work again. This one's athletes and fitness and this is the work that the book that was up there. This is what most people know about. And I also have another one. Hold on, let me get that here. Which is completely different work, which is lifestyle and fitness, which I have this work too right here. I'll show a little bit of it. Which is way different than the other style that I have. So, it's much softer. It's much different. I showed this work to an editor from Maxim after I shot it and he was, "Oh, cool, "You got some natural light stuff." And I was, "No, they were shot at night. " But, I wanted to show that I could light different and I could work women too, not just athletes. And again, these are done here that. So, this is why I'm big on lighting, because this is the set right here. And then, if you kinda in the work right here, this is just kinda more other work, more natural light stuff. But, we're gonna go here. So, this images, this set of three right here, and these two were done in the same exact room at the same exact time. It was just changing the lighting setup. So, that's what I to show. I to light this, personally. But, this is kinda the work that I would show if I wanted to photograph a model who works like this, I would show them this book in person like this and just come up with ideas like that. Like, you know what I mean? Or, say that I could light you like this or do other stuff like that. Generally, if you work with models, you have to do work like this. Light them nice and basic and I give them what they need from the agency. And then I'll start doing work that, like some more dark and moodier like this. So, this is something what I would show in a portfolio of you. Again, these are bay books. These are 11 by 14 and the biggest thing about these that I like that's a big plus is they look really nice inside a metallic cover. But, one of the biggest things that I do is that if you look, they have it's called, hinge pages, so, there's no gutter in between them . So, when you have a double page spread that it shows up really well. And, again this is just personal taste for me, I like the glossy paper on it 'cause it works really, really well with my work. They also have more of a matte finish. It has less matte and it's less prone to fingerprints. But, again, this is all work that I do and that's how I show it and I'll show this image right here, but a two page spread works really, really well. With a gutter you almost lose nothing. So, but this is kinda one of the things how I show my work. And the way I show more work too, is this is more recent work that I have. This is more a magazine. This is something that I actually give to a potential client. When I work on there this is like a mini portfolio. This is with more updated work which we have right here. So, this is basically a smaller version of the book. Like something that they could take home or I let them keep it and take it. So, it shows kinda all out current work right here. And on the end of all my portfolio pages I always have if you look right here, a little behind the scenes and my bio and my client list. And I've always gotten a reaction from this. All the editors and Blizzard clients always love this. So, when I do a shoot with somebody, how I connect with them, I'll literally have this out in a shoot on a table and show them all these out all these spread out. Or have reference images where we're gonna shoot that I've done before. And I'll show it to them. The downside to these books is that they look really, really nice, but they're printed and bounded, so if you gotta kinda update them you're kinda screwed. You have to order a brand new book. So, that's why I'm in the process of making a brand new one of these. So, what I've been doing lately on there, which I kinda, is to show my current work and create rapport. I literally just printed out. And again, paper's really personal. This is the paper I love doing: handling paper. But, I actually make physical prints like this. And I letting actually doing this and I hand it to them. And then I show them kinda more of the current work that I've done that hasn't been published and stuff that. So, I just show them that's not in my book yet. And I kinda show them all the work that I've done. And I hand it to them. And I actually really, really doing this. 'cause I just feel you make these kinda hero shots. That you go through them, they see them printed big, and then when they're done looking at this, I'll show them my book and then go through that. So, this is cool 'cause you can kinda highlight the images that you wanna show them there. So, this is kinda that ballet shoot I was talking about. And this works (mumbles) This one is not. But, this is how I like... I've been showing my work now lately in the recent minutes that I've had.

Class Description

Time is money when photographing high profile athletes. One must be quick and efficient, which are two traits that can apply to any photography business. Five time portrait photographer of the year Alexis Cuarezma will break down how he prepares to photograph and produce a number of different looks within minutes to give his clients different visual options. He'll explain how he sets up his lighting to maximize efficiency and produce a variety of looks within a short period of time.