The Human Side of Photography - 4 Tips for Natural Looking Portraits

The Human Side of Photography – 4 Tips for Natural Looking Portraits


Over the years my camera has become an extension of my arm, relate? Of course you do. Those lucky souls like you and I who discover they have a passion for photography quickly find it to be magically intoxicating in every way. We just can’t get enough.

human-side-photography.jpgWell passion and creative vision out the wazoo (pardon my French), even when coupled with perfect light, perfect equipment, and all the experience in the world will amount to very little if you’ve got a subject who just will not cooperate.

When I first started as a professional photographer it was mind baffling to me the way some people responded when I’d point my camera at them. “FOR PETE’S SAKE!” I’d lament to my husband after a shoot. “They were paying me to photograph them, they hired me, it wasn’t as if I ripped them from their houses, tied them to a tree and forced them to say ‘Cheese.’ What am I missing here?!?” Grrr. I would leave shoots like those EXHAUSTED… absolutely ready for a cup of tea and a bubble bath, and TOTALLY dreading uploading the photos… knowing that all I’d ended up with were a bunch of awkward smiles on tight, strained faces.

Then there came a time in my career when I was in desperate need of a head shot… I hate being in front of the camera… I know. I know. Go figure. Does the irony of all this tickle you as much as it does me? I called a friend and fellow photographer to handle the shoot. “OK Nic, short and sweet. We just need ONE good shot.” She pulled that camera out and it was everything I could do not to run screaming down the beach. She may as well have actually ripped me from my house and tied me to a tree. My heart was pounding, my palms were sweating and I could feel all the blood in my body racing to my face. Needless to say we DID NOT get that “ONE good shot.” Alas, the finished product showed just nervous, awkward bubble headed me … with a face as red as a cherry I might add.

Well over the years I’ve finally cracked the code to dealing with people photographically… Thus, The Human Side of Photography. Here’s 4 tips on how I work toward those beautiful, natural, genuine portraits that make our hearts sing, end up framed on our walls, and/or sell like crazy post production.

1. Handle the Hands:

Give your subject something to hold. If their hands are busy it’s generally enough of a cognitive distraction to curb their camera anxiety.

Take this bride for example. She was really struggling being herself in front of my camera during her bridal shoot. So, I handed her her fiance’s guitar and voilà. Beautifully natural in every way! I love this shot.


2. Pull up a Chair:

I carry a stool with me to every shoot… ALWAYS. It has saved me a million times over. When people sit, they will 9 times out of 10 loose the nervous rigidity they have when they’re standing. The situation automatically steps away from the formal air of photographer/photographee and instantly feels more casual.

This momma-to-be insisted incessantly that she was just “not photogenic” (if only I got a nickel for every time someone spit that at me … or maybe a dime for every time I proved them wrong… hmm). Thank Heaven for my trusty stool. Momma loosened right up once seated, and we got something genuine and sweet.


3. The Attraction of Distraction:

Distract your subject. Get them talking about something you know they’re interested in, ask them questions about their family, pets or favorite super heroes if you get desperate. Do whatever you can to pull their attention away from themselves. I find that shifting their attention to me by making fun of myself to be a trick that’s tried and true.

I’ve also been known to suddenly start barking like a dog to inspire spontaneous laughter… quacking like a duck is also a good bet… trust me, once you get a couple of good laughs out of your subject… it’s all a breeze from there. Laughter releases endorphins and thus a general sense of well-being, at least that’s what “they” say… hey, it works for me!

An example of this was an engagement shoot I did a while back. The groom-to-be was completely relaxed and comfortable, but the bride was just NOT quite getting there. To make a bad thing worse, we started out shooting in a marshy field where we were literally swarmed by mosquitoes… I counted 26 on my legs at one point (like actual bugs biting me simultaneously… not just 26 bites … but I digress). She was bitten TERRIBLY and was SO uncomfortable. I could sense her discouragement, so as we walked to the next site (as far away from said swamp field as possible) I told her fiance to give me a couple of seconds of shooting and then just to start tickling her like crazy.

It was so much fun for everyone! We got a fun shot of the tickle-fest, though that wasn’t the end in mind… the goal was to help her feel relaxed and comfortable for the rest of the shoot- and guess what? It worked like a charm. (This tip is especially good when working with children. Get them talking about something they love and it’s like flipping on a light switch to those sweet genuine expressions that only children can give).


4. A Tip from Aretha… R.E.S.P.E.C.T:

Remember that your subjects deserve your respect… whether it’s your own kiddos or you’re on hire. If you’ve got a subject or two or more who are just plain uncomfortable, seek out privacy for the shoot as much as possible. If you’ve got something in your head that you’re working towards and your subject just isn’t diggin’ it… drop it and move on to something else.

Ultimately you want nice pictures AND a nice memory of the shoot as a whole. If your subject feels understood and respected, that’s your first step in breaking them out of that awkward little box and truly capturing their essence. I learned this the hard way… my oldest son (4yrs old) used to head for the hills when he saw me coming camera in hand.

Once I learned to just respect that, and simply leave him alone at times like these… he actually started coming to ME and asking me to shoot him. And here’s the treasured result:


In this shot he said to me, “ok Mom, now I’m going to pretend like I’m sleeping.” Ah, be still my beating heart!

Happy shooting!

Natalie Lives and shoots on the North Shore of Oahu, HI with her wonderful husband and 3 crazy sons. See more of her work and writing at


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Natalie Norton is a writer and a lifestyle wedding and portrait photographer who shoots across the globe. She is based off of the North Shore of Oahu and out of Gilbert, Arizona. Enjoy more of her photography and writing at You can also connect with Natalie via Twitter or on Facebook.

Some Older Comments

  • Rahela May 13, 2013 07:33 pm

    Great tips, Natalie, I really enjoyed reading your article and studying the photographs.

    Now, I'm not a professional photographer and my (only) human subject is my daughter who is literally running away from the camera every time I pull it out.
    Don't believe me? , LOL!

    The older she gets, the more difficult it gets to get decent shots of her. She starts to complain, whine about me annoying her with the camera, and it really ruins the whole experience.
    I think one of the last decent shots I got from her was
    a) when she was in her carnival suit:
    b) when I gave her something to do:

    So I will read back the article again and try to implement all of the rules. Thank you again for inspiring me!

  • HariKrish November 25, 2012 07:49 pm

    the last one is so cute ;) very natural...

  • Gitta Barth March 24, 2012 01:49 pm

    One of the nicest review of tips for portraits I've seen. Of course from a woman's. Thank you. I will remember the "make them laugh" tip

  • friv December 9, 2011 02:28 am

    Thanks for these tips,I don't know about that before find your blog.Cool!

  • Dewan Demmer November 9, 2011 01:48 am

    So in a nutshell all that's being said is find a "prop". Over simplified perhaps but still relevant. Each photo has the subject doing something mostly holding something, and the simple rule with that is keep a subject occupied and they that part of their brain that is worried about the camera gets caught up in whats happening and hey the natural look. Its true think about it or just give it a go.
    Take a photo with the person stand in front of you and then give them something to hold, take another picture.. compare.
    There are other methods and ways but they all follow the same rule.
    My example here is a baby portrait set, see how she is always looking at the camera, and its when she is interested in the camera the shot becomes interesting for us, and of course natural.
    if you disagree tell me so.

  • Tiffany October 18, 2011 06:22 am

    I am new to photography, so with that, I always enjoyed (when I was being photographed) the photographer letting us do some "goofy" shots, but it was always towards the end the shoot. I wonder, if you began with "goofy" shots such as silly faces, jumping, odd poses if it would loosen up the clients quicker??? Therefore, getting all those nervous feelings out, release those emotions (which are energy) and allowing the calm, loving, happy emotions to come into the picture?? Any advice? Thanks

  • Rekha September 19, 2011 12:16 am

    Workable tips... I was looking for exactly these....thanks

  • Portait Photographer Aberdeen August 23, 2011 02:09 am

    Great tips thanks. Love the the last tip you put in as well :D

  • Barry Page May 30, 2011 09:11 pm

    Good job, nice compilation of the example images with the information. This would really help the newcomers in the photographic profession to get some pro skills......

  • Jefferson Studios May 30, 2011 09:08 pm

    Nice post with the awesome images and useful information for the aspiring photographers.....

  • Popcorn March 15, 2011 03:23 am

    What an informative and funny article.Thank you for your photos and article.

  • Rekha October 25, 2010 04:55 pm

    Extremely well written, concise, clear, and VERY HELPFUL piece. Thank you so much for sharing so generously and sincerely.

  • Prasad September 19, 2010 12:50 am

    Very informative for someone like me who has recently bought DSLR and trying my camera on Portraits

  • ellebee August 28, 2010 08:58 pm

    Great tips! I feel/felt the same way on shoots..... Nice to know I'm in good company.... Thanks!

  • Rob May 13, 2010 01:07 pm

    Excellent tips, Bought digital SLR camera a while ago but the pictures were not coming that good. These tips will help to get better result. Thank you kindly.

  • Maggie May 6, 2010 12:11 am

    This is great! I'm only a student still but a family friend has asked me to shoot some photographs of her daughters this summer and I do not know them so these tips are going to be perfect when it comes time to take the pictures. Thanks again!

  • emmele February 1, 2010 12:32 pm

    Wow,these are wonderful tips.I am a amature photographer who likes to photograph nature. I have been asked to photograph some friends and freaking out. I have only photographed for about 1.5 years (love in it). Trying to do some googling to find tips and came upon this site. This paragraph here about tickling and how you got your son to pose for you gave me some awesome chills and happy tears. Thank you so much for your great tips and I guess I try my camera on people . Thank you again.

  • Billy Hunt January 26, 2010 02:07 am

    Here is a video with four tips for your clients. Check it out, its funny, and I think it will help be get beter pictures quicker from my subjects.

  • Swiss JHG Photo December 16, 2009 06:46 am

    Interesting, it captures well popular north american tips of doing portrait photography... would be interesting to understand what are the same tips for natural pics in other regions.

  • Tara November 24, 2009 02:52 am

    Thanks for the tips! I'm such a newbie but I want to specialize in portraits so I'm gobbling up (no pun intended) everything on the site related to portraits.

  • Yogendra October 24, 2009 08:54 pm

    I have loved reading these articles and especially loved the child photo on this one!! Here is my humble attempt to replicate it with my son. (i have also given cross reference to this post on this image to say “Thank-You” [Little Dreams by Yogendra174, on Flickr]


  • Yogendra October 24, 2009 08:52 pm

    I have loved reading these articles and especially loved the child photo on this one!! Here is my humble attempt to replicate it with my son. (i have also given cross reference to this post on this image to say "Thank-You"[img][/img]

  • Gayleen October 12, 2009 06:46 pm

    Thanks alot for the great tips I enjoy reading it

  • vania cS. October 7, 2009 01:26 am

    thank you SO much for the tips, I'm about making my first couple shoot so I'm pretty nervous, I really hope to remember your wise words while shooting. :o)

  • Photogenic August 31, 2009 03:07 am

    wonderful tips... especially the chair.. thanks a lot!

  • courtney July 17, 2009 01:40 am

    I really enjoyed this article. I am doing my 2nd photo shoot Saturday and my 3rd Sunday. Thank you for the tips and pointers

  • Author: Natalie Norton July 15, 2009 03:18 am


    Hmm. . . I took that picture a couple of years ago and am almost certain it's simply a black and white conversion. . . if anything it MAY have a sepia overlay at a VERY low opacity over the black and white, but again, I'm pretty darn near certain it is simply a black and white conversion with a contrast boost.

    Wish I were more helpful!


  • Ashley Hudson July 14, 2009 02:04 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I do have a question that is off subject though.... I have always wondered how to put that photo effect on some of my portraits that you did of your son, I love the brown tint and the "dreamy" look that it gives, how do you guys do that?

  • Daiquiri July 11, 2009 10:57 am

    THANK you so much for this article! I generally have success with children, but families scare me half to death - so awkward and uncomfortable most of the time. I've begun to dread family shoots, and I have one in two days! I'll be the one behind the camera who's barking and quacking ;-)

  • Tracy July 9, 2009 01:42 pm

    What a wonderful article! I just joined DPS and yours is the first article I read. I can't wait to read more! Thank you!

  • Jordy June 25, 2009 05:21 pm

    Great's really good sharing from your experience....I'll keep it in my mind from now on!

  • Nikrometer June 3, 2009 09:55 pm

    Thank you so very much for your training ideas. They will last me for a lifetime as I embark into photography. It is later in life that I am starting to get fully into photography, and I want to remember my grandkids and have their images for others to see for years to come.
    Thanks again,
    Jim Lundy (Nikrometor)

  • John T. Riley June 2, 2009 09:52 am

    I agree with all of your tips. I had been using them for quite some time before reading your article but never could have explained them as clearly. Two additional tips that, for me, trump everything else. You have to first establish the purpose (for whom is it being done) of the portrait and then you have to develop an emotional connection with the model. Without the emotional aspect, all is lost. I know this requires additional time, but is the foundation for every successful photo shoot I have done.

  • Kim June 1, 2009 02:53 am

    Great article!! Love your comments and humour.....your tips sound like they will work like a charm the next time I have a picky subject to snap pictures of.

  • David C. Cooper May 20, 2009 09:58 am

    Thank G-d I found this wonderful article.
    Natalie, thank you for sharing. I've been thinking of different ways to help loosen up my subjects I'd just never been able to quantify them. And you tied the whole article up with a very touching example that made me tear up thinking about my own kids.
    Double thank you. ^^

  • Rene May 19, 2009 12:16 am

    great post! those four tips are true gems. thanks!

  • Margie May 17, 2009 01:18 pm

    A great article, I also engage my children in funny conversation to loosen them up or sometimes I give them something funny to think about and just capture that thoughtful or mischievous grin.
    Thank you for your great tips!!

  • Enzo May 17, 2009 10:58 am

    I love this post and really appreciate the simple tips.
    I will be putting these into practice soon.

  • Vic Morphy May 17, 2009 09:22 am

    Great tips, thankyou

  • kristen@nosmallthing May 16, 2009 09:14 pm

    Great tips, thank you! And I LOVE LOVE LOVE the picture of your son. I may have to use that "pretend like you're sleeping" thing...

    Also, the stool. Fantastic idea. Thanks!

  • Anna May 16, 2009 04:20 pm

    This is REALLY helpful. I am just getting started with the portraiture section of my course (New York Institute of Photography) and I have been really digging my heals in. Portraits was never really for me. But after reading this article I realized it doesn't have to be hard at all - these tips alone can work wonders, I've actually seen it work, even though I didn't necessarily realize or put all the pieces together fully to see how I could apply it consistently later on. Thanks!

  • Mandi May 16, 2009 01:58 am

    Definitely one of the better (or best) of the articles. Thanks so much!

  • Vineet May 15, 2009 01:29 pm

    So that's the difference between the stiff shots and the genuine smiles! I can imagine using these ideas for shooting with a camera but I wonder how Mona Lisa kept her smile for the hours it took to paint her ;-)

  • SweetCapture May 15, 2009 11:05 am

    Thank you so much! Great tips!!

  • Sache' Jacks May 15, 2009 09:31 am

    Great Article...priceless tips

  • Jacqui May 15, 2009 01:36 am

    I absolutely hate having my picture taken and my family have to be quick off the mark to get one of me.

    I love the tickle tip - brilliant idea and one I shall definitely use in the future.

    With reference to sitting on the stool and slouching - a recent tip we picked up was to tell the 'model' to imagine that someone has poked them in the small of their back - try it - you will immediately see a much straighter back and better position - this works with standing as well.

    Lovely article and thank you,


  • Alisya May 14, 2009 04:30 am

    Wow, you take such amazing pictures & the tips are really helpful!
    You have such an adorable little boy! <3

  • Tony May 14, 2009 02:35 am

    Very helpful ideas here - thanks! Trial and error, expecting too much from others, realizing that we too can be a bit allergic to the camera (faced at us that is!)
    Tried a good one at a 70th birthday family session the other day - Rather serious gentleman, so got everyone to look at the "birthday boy" - WORKED wonders! Smiles all round, a lovely natural take and released those endorfins you mention.
    Best wishes to all.

  • Joao Barcelos May 14, 2009 02:17 am

    Brilliant article. Maybe one of the best I've read on DPS. This is really something I struggle with, so I will try the tips out...
    And the last picture is fantastic.

  • Dominic May 13, 2009 08:26 pm

    A very useful tutorial - thanks =]

  • Photographer sydney May 13, 2009 04:42 pm

    thats really a great information. i learnt a lot .this is such a wonderful tips.. thanks.

  • stephen May 13, 2009 12:34 pm

    feb 27 2008? Recycling old stories, still huh?

  • Vincent May 13, 2009 06:47 am

    Thanks for this post Natalie, I am a pro for about 16 years and I lost track a bit of tdoing the 'loose' portraits (going to much on routine) I get a bit stuck lately. After reading your post it came back to me again. And will def use it the next time

    Lovely pics specially that last one and the couple

    Keep shooting

  • Sandra May 13, 2009 06:15 am

    I love your writing style. You seem like a photographer I'd love to hang out with!

  • Robin Ryan May 13, 2009 05:04 am

    This is an excellent article. I'd like to expand on #2 - the chair.

    While a stool is a useful tool, many people will naturally sit back in it and slump a bit. This is NOT what we want - it gives rounded shoulders, double-chins, turkey necks... yuck!

    Encourage your subject to sit on the edge of the stool, which will give them stronger shoulders, a straight back, an elongated neck (the best type), and will keep them focused and their eyes interesting. Here are two examples of subjects sitting on, literally, the edges of their seats:

    Hope this helps!

  • Mandy May 13, 2009 02:26 am

    Great post, I've always steered clear of portrait shoots prefering candid shots instead. Born from a hatred of being in front of the camera! It's funny how many photographers hate having their photograph taken, I'm glad I'm not on my own!

    But these tips (which I would never have thought of) are great. My eldest son's eyes are always everywhere except looking at the camera so I'll definitely try them out with him...

  • Simone May 7, 2009 06:29 pm

    Kids are so cute. Love the photo of your son.

  • PicturePam April 13, 2009 10:06 am

    I take sports photos with the kids as young as 3. When I am have a hard time getting them to smile, instead of "cheese" I have them say something silly like "pickle" or "purple pickle". It's unexpected and usually works. I do the same when I have them in a group. As serious as some of them try to be they will crack a smile most of the time.

  • Sache' Jacks March 25, 2009 10:00 pm

    Great Article! I appreciate talented photographer that share their knowlege. You are and will be bless in so many ways...Thank you for inspiring me to continue to Dream in Color.

  • Amy Hanna February 13, 2009 01:44 am

    Thanks so much, great info!

  • Todd Overman January 23, 2009 02:07 am

    Good tips.

    I hope with the couple shot you did something about the mosquito bites on her arm (and that big tree growing out of her head!). :-)

  • Wedding photographer Hampshire January 21, 2009 09:30 am

    Good tips Natalie. I like the natural look of the mum to be.
    A tip I found very useful from a fellow photographer was to use a remote cable to fire the shutter. People seem to tense up more when you put your eye to the viewfinder, as they are expecting you to take a picture.
    Put the camera on a tripod and once the camera is in position you can stand up and move away from it. the subject will not be expecting a photo and will relax. Fire the shutter when you see a good shot.
    This works wonderfully with children providing they are not running around of course.

  • Seann Alexander January 20, 2009 02:59 pm

    I love the tickle trick you suggest.

    I can't wait to try it out.

  • sam garst January 18, 2009 01:31 am

    Great advice (love the 'handle the hands').
    Here is a tip I use with kids- tell them to make ugly scary faces. They quickly get so absorbed in making crazy faces, and laughing at each others' faces, that they forget about me and the camera. Score!

    Also, people tend to mimic each other. Sometimes the best thing I've done is stopped to stretch, or scratch an itch; your subject might take a 'break' from posing and stretch/scratch, and you can snag a quick unposed shot.

  • Adam Queen January 17, 2009 03:01 am

    Wow... I love that shot of your boy "sleeping"! Great empty space above his head, normally I don't like that much space, but you made it work amazingly! Thanks for all of the good tips, it will help me on my shoot in a couple of weeks.


  • Barbara January 17, 2009 02:04 am

    This is such an excellent article. These are the kinds of tips that really help a beginner like myself! Thank you!

  • Nori January 17, 2009 01:57 am

    Thank yo very much Natalie, amazing tips!

  • dara January 14, 2009 01:12 pm

    Simple vut efficent tips, Thank you for sharing

  • hediye January 9, 2009 12:55 am

    Thanks. The original photos ;)

  • Carl January 8, 2009 08:03 pm

    Great tips. When you make it fun to smile for the camera, you finally get some natural and genuine photos. Most people definitely have a phobia when the camera comes out. It would be interesting to ask people "why?". I bet we could hear some great reasons and maybe change their attitude from there.

  • Nathalie December 22, 2008 10:39 am

    This is great!
    Finally some practical shooting tips any newbie photographer could use.

  • Patrick December 2, 2008 01:25 pm

    Everything has been said,but not everyone has said it. Thank you.

  • Mary Anne November 29, 2008 04:00 pm

    Great photos! I especially love the one of the little boy. :)

  • kiÅŸisel geliÅŸim July 31, 2008 06:57 pm

    Yes, great portraits photo. ;)

  • Darren April 15, 2008 08:29 am

    Seems you have set me a nw goal. Next portfolio is going to be portraits..thanks for the advice.

    All the best.

  • Chris March 31, 2008 07:39 pm

    Fantastic and genuinely insightful piece, and a lovely look at a human nature. Wise words, not only about portraits, but about life with other people in general, in some ways! :)

  • Adil February 27, 2008 09:37 pm

    Hi, Surely wonderful... i'm very fond of natural photography.

    In picture 3 which is an excellant shot, can you please tell how is the background diffused a bit to make the subject much visible and clear !!

    i'll wait for the reply.

    Best Regards,
    Adil Ansari
    From Pakistan.

  • subcorpus February 21, 2008 05:41 am

    this is good info ...
    enjoyed reading the post ... kewl pics as well ...
    now on to the field to see if i can pull it off ...
    but may be i'll leave the stool behind for a while ...
    you know ...

  • Diana Tan February 17, 2008 08:11 pm

    I love the pictures and well written article. Thank you.

  • Jen February 14, 2008 10:57 am

    What an informative and funny article. And BEAUTIFUL pictures!!!

  • Kylie February 14, 2008 07:17 am

    Thank you so very much for sharing your experience. You have inspired my to leave my wild life for a bit and change back to people for another go.

  • Jocelyn February 11, 2008 04:32 am

    Wonderful tips! Thanks so much.
    I attended a photo shoot recently, it was everyone in the office getting some decent portraits done and I can agree about the distraction bit. I was wondering why the photographer (Stu Williamson) was so chatty but then he got me talking and laughing too and before I knew it I was done. The photos turned out way better than I expected. I am now trying to use that technique when shooting my kids.

  • tin-tin February 10, 2008 08:48 pm

    thanks for this! coz what i really want to take photos are of people :)

  • Shelly February 10, 2008 08:55 am

    I respond like that if you wave a chocolater bar in front of my face!

  • d4n131m3j14 February 10, 2008 06:01 am

    Great post just what I was looking for!

  • Roxanne February 10, 2008 05:49 am

    Great and useful information in a straight foreward manner from a pro. I appreciate that. I am also REALLY glad most of my subjects are HORSES! You want a horse's full attention? Wave a carrot at him, position the carrot in different places and angles..You'll get every expression and facet of personality you can imagine.Too bad humans couldn't just respond like that using a chocolate bar!

  • Claude Frank February 10, 2008 01:45 am

    Ditto! Thanks for these tips, i especially like the distraction and hands suggestions.

  • Syahid A. February 9, 2008 11:43 pm

    Nice advice Darren. The distraction tip is very true.

  • Trenna Grayson February 9, 2008 09:58 pm

    thank you for the tips, i don't like posing people for shots, i like candid moments, but reading this wet my interest to give it another try.

  • dr siddiqui February 9, 2008 03:59 pm

    nice tips.thanks

  • Frank Peck February 9, 2008 02:27 pm

    My goodness. What a great article. In a few short minutes I learned an incredible amount. Your pictures are so fluid. What about nudes? hee hee you know what I mean....babies
    Thank you, again, for the great lesson.

  • frank peck February 9, 2008 02:24 pm

    My goodness. What a great article. In a few short minutes I learned an incredible amount. your pictures are so fluid. What about nudes? hee hee you know what I mean....babies
    Thank you, again for the great lesson.

  • Diana Williams February 9, 2008 08:22 am

    What a grear article for a total novice photographer.

  • Deb February 9, 2008 07:31 am

    Wow! What beautiful photos and great tips! Our family recently had some photos taken and it would have been great to have such REAL moments captured!
    Great Job!

  • Mary February 9, 2008 07:25 am

    Great article. I needed some simple things to keep in my while using my digital. I'm excited to try some of them with my two-year old.

  • Micah February 9, 2008 05:37 am

    I hate it when people freeze up and saying "act natural!" always has the opposite effect. : ) Great techniques! I be able to use them this weekend.

  • BryceJay February 9, 2008 03:43 am

    Clear, concise, honest and funny. Thanks Natalie for your insight and your very helpful hints. As a novice I look forward to applying these ideas to my craft.

  • Eric February 9, 2008 02:54 am

    Thank you!!! Very useful tips

  • Rebecca February 9, 2008 02:04 am

    Not only great advice, but well written, fun and entertaining to read. (Excellent photos, too!) Thanks for the great tips.

  • Squidman February 9, 2008 01:24 am

    Nice article. Clay Blackmore says that portrait photography is a conversation with a camera in your hand. A simple statement but it expresses the point well.

  • VeeBee February 9, 2008 12:33 am

    Wow. This was a great post. I'm inspired.

  • Dianne Durante February 8, 2008 10:33 pm

    I've put a summary of these in my Outlook Contacts. (I keep a category called "Tips".) If I don't note them somewhere, then when I'm in a situation to use them, I'll be scratching my head thinking I read something really useful about this... when? where? what???? And by then, the moment's gone. Thanks for the advice, Natalie!

  • Meg February 8, 2008 10:10 pm

    Thanks so much! I've been asked to shoot for a friend and her family and having not done a lot in the way of portraits I was worried I'd get it wrong. I feel much more confident now that I'll get pictures that actually look like my subjects.

  • Rashed February 8, 2008 10:01 pm

    thanks 4 the tips :)

    about the chair yeah i like this way
    i always search 4 a chair to take pictures of my friends..

  • Riyazi February 8, 2008 07:53 pm

    Superb tips, very well written and excellent photographs. Thank you very much. I am going to come back to this time and time again

  • Sahul February 8, 2008 07:23 pm

    Brilliant points you've made there, thanks Natalie. I like the last shot best. However, there are a bit too much negative space above the head. Just my 2 cents worth. :-)

  • Jackie Kontoes February 8, 2008 06:58 pm

    Using personal stories is a great way to teach. This article was entertaining as well as informative. And as president of the "not-photogenic club", I would like to say Thank You! Now I know what to do with myself while the camera is flashing in my face.

  • Vijay February 8, 2008 03:23 pm

    Thanx for the useful tips. Will surely help while taking photographs of my cute daughter and nephews.

  • Natalie Norton February 8, 2008 01:03 pm

    Wow all! Thanks for all the comments (and visits to my personal blog and emails)! I'm SO glad the post was helpful. Thank you all for the warm welcome!

    Aloha and happy shooting!


  • February 8, 2008 12:24 pm

    thanks for taking the time to write that! well done and very useful!

  • Gregory February 8, 2008 11:53 am

    Rare! Very clear and useful insights. Fresh not same old. Also thanks for the elegant examples of your beautiful work. Wish I could afford to fly you to the mainland to shoot (with your camera!) our authors and speakers.

  • Fotograf February 8, 2008 08:39 am

    Good advice from everything. Something to remember.

  • Michael-Paul February 8, 2008 08:31 am

    Being a photp buff myself with 2 children and over 10,000 photos in my iphoto
    collection I find your advise very helpful. Please continue with the tips and make all of our photo lives easier. My children are at the stage where they only pretend smile with a stiff torso. Your tips work wonderfully. XO MPH

  • Edward February 8, 2008 07:53 am

    Now I'm all misty eyed.

    That last photo of your little boy is perfect.

    Children really are so special and I love photographing mine too.

    B&W shots of people are my faves.

    Thanks for these bits of advice.

  • Charlie Madsen February 8, 2008 07:51 am

    WOW Natalie! What great advise from a beautiful person. I passed your blog onto my kids. Keep up the good work.

  • Michael S February 8, 2008 07:33 am

    Very good advice for me because I love photographing children. All your photos are beautiful, especially the sweet baby.

  • Rohit.P.Toppo. February 8, 2008 07:28 am

    ...dat was some amazing tips..people generally tend to forget these while photographing..I'm no exception ;) ..truly 'The human side of photography'..Cheers!!!..or should i say Cheese!!! :) thanks.

  • Ray T. February 8, 2008 07:07 am

    The barking dog tip really works, especially when shooting pets. It makes them cock their head as if to ask what's wrong with him.

  • Dal Zemp February 8, 2008 06:18 am

    Natalie is a brilliant photographer. She shot our family in Hawaii. Absolutely unequalled! It is great to learn from the Master!

  • Rich February 8, 2008 05:24 am

    Great tips! Awesome how you captured the bride to be with such a smile, even though she was almost eaten alive by mosquitos (see her forearm for proof) :)

  • ryan February 8, 2008 05:03 am

    awesome job on the article!! it was so simple, but can definitly make a difference in shooting pictures!! thanks for the tips, seriously! good job!

  • Jana February 8, 2008 04:43 am

    I can see the bites on her arm! (#3)

  • Wade February 8, 2008 04:17 am

    Really nice "article" I have a two year old who just does not like me to shoot her, but if I get her involved in something I get some nice shots.

    I think I'm going to put the short version of these tips on a card and laminate it.

  • Pramod Rai February 8, 2008 04:03 am

    very nice tips even for a beginner ! it feels so natural and clear to approach the humans like humans for a photo shot !

    Thank you !!

  • Sharon February 8, 2008 03:43 am

    Thanks - great tips!!!

  • maya February 8, 2008 03:22 am

    what a great post! the best i've read on this subject in a while. thanks!

  • Chet February 8, 2008 03:09 am

    A VERY inspiring and encouraging post. Although most have "heard that one before" it is a well written reminder that is most likely to remind me.

    Thanks for the submission!

  • Stock Photo Sam February 8, 2008 03:02 am

    nice article! i liked the "barking like a dog" idea, I've also found that anything that breaks them out of the "normality" of a situation works well. a good example is starting a conversation about a controversial topic (depends on the type of people of course) and then let the heat of the discussion get the anxiety out of them.

  • Mandy February 8, 2008 02:59 am

    I was cracking up thinking of someone getting in front of the camera who is so used to being behind it:) What a well written fun article. I loved it and cant wait to hear more!! Wahoooo!!! You are gifted in so many ways. Love the little boy sweet:)

  • pao February 8, 2008 02:58 am

    thank you so much for this article. i learned a lot from it.

  • Ann February 8, 2008 02:52 am

    Great tips - I might just try the "distraction" technique next time I'm trying for good shots of my nearest and dearest - your photos are wonderful as well!

  • Bart Carlos February 8, 2008 02:37 am

    Great stuff, write your book, I'll buy copies for all of my friends.

  • Hannah February 8, 2008 02:36 am

    Great article! I always find myself with subjects that are nervous about their picture being taken, I feel sure your tips will help me out!! Beautiful photographs too by the way.

  • Jas February 8, 2008 02:17 am

    What a great article. Well presented and very informational. I love that photo of the Mommy to Be - what a great shot!

  • Keith February 8, 2008 02:11 am

    Great tips!! Maybe now I can get some good pictures from the family. Thanks. Keith

  • Brian Davis February 8, 2008 01:51 am

    Great Photography, and top notch pro suggestions on photography! One thing is for sure... If I get married again... Nat' will be our photographer!!

  • Karla February 7, 2008 11:45 pm

    Natalie - Thank you for the extremely helpful post!

  • jase February 7, 2008 04:27 pm

    That was great insight, and I love the style of your shots!
    thanks for sharing.

  • Raeann February 7, 2008 04:18 pm

    Natalie you are incredible! Love the simple yet incredible treasures you created! especially that cute mommie to be :-)You are gifted and very generous to share your gift! Thanks Raeann

  • Taras February 7, 2008 02:49 pm

    I'd hate to sound like a broken record but wow! thank you! after hearing things like these it seems like common sense to me which will help next time i'm put in such a situation. Once again, thank you.

  • Pat Stapley February 7, 2008 02:33 pm

    I am familiar with Natalie Norton's work, I have seen some of photos that she takes, they are beautiful and very creative. I loved the tips!

  • Kevin Lavin February 7, 2008 01:32 pm

    VERY nice! Great article!

  • Jennifer February 7, 2008 01:00 pm

    Natalie! What amazing tips! How simple and easy you make it seem to get the perfect picture! Thanks for your insight.

  • Kathy February 7, 2008 12:38 pm

    Great advice written in a natural voice and WOW--wonderful pictures (straight from the natural voice of your camera)

  • Tim North February 7, 2008 12:07 pm

    "Hell is other people" as Sartre said. These tips should make photographing them a little less hellish. Thanks.

  • Rachel February 7, 2008 11:59 am

    Awesome tips, I never thought about the hands, I love that tip. It definitely makes the photo more interested and one of a kind. Stool, distraction, respect...all so very useful and something I should have thought of. Thanks for the article I found it very helpful. Thanks

  • April February 7, 2008 11:40 am

    Your photography is excellent! I think you've really refined a talent that you have been blessed with. It's fulfilling to see this kind of photography. Thanks :)

  • david February 7, 2008 11:36 am

    great tips and rally great portraits. it's quite a practical guide that every photographer can get some use out of.



  • Kevin February 7, 2008 10:45 am

    Loved it. Any tips for travelers, attempting to capture the memories, not just of themselves, but how to turn pescy "we've all seen" them tourist shots into National Geographic winners?

  • Joseph February 7, 2008 10:36 am

    What a great article! Clear, precise and easy to understand. Impressive that you shoot amazing shots and your way of explaining everything was perfect too. Thanks!

  • Bobby Foreman February 7, 2008 10:28 am

    Great steps. Cute little boy.

  • Shelly February 7, 2008 09:22 am

    This really IS a great post! The reason I prefer taking candid shots is because I don't have to deal with the "awkward" photos. As a result, I shy aware from opportunities for posed sittings. I've never felt I was capable of making people "natural" in poses. I can't wait to try this! Thank you! By the way, your photography is wonderful.

  • Fiona February 7, 2008 08:45 am

    Another reason to wish I lived in Hawaii! I'd love to have Ms. Link shoot my fiance and I. Brilliant article. I hope we'll be hearing more from her?

  • Heather February 7, 2008 08:00 am

    WOW! GREAT tips! Such simple ideas that I would NEVER have thought of otherwise!

  • Richard February 7, 2008 07:53 am

    Finally something practical, clear and totally relevant to me! Thanks! :-)

  • ilva February 7, 2008 02:17 am

    Thanks a lot, what a great post, it made me want to go out shooting people straight away! (With my camera obviously!)