Photographing portraits isn't the easiest thing to do. Foremost in my mind when doing a portrait shot is mostly technical things. Stuff like:
- Did I get the lighting right?
- Am I using flattering angles?
- Am I being creative with the subject and background?
- How do I avoid the reflection in the glasses?
- Do I need a gold/silver/white reflector?
- DAMN! I need another flash!
But that's the easy part. The most difficult bit (for me anyway) is always the interaction. Depending on the subject, this can be easy.. or HELL. My first few tries at portrait photography were disasters.. I went in feeling all tense and intimidated, which naturally resulted in crappy shots. But I've realised a couple of things that has made more recent attempts at portraiture easier to handle.
So far, the thing that has worked for me is taking control of the situation. After the formal introductions are done, I just proceed to tell the subject where I would want him/her to stand and fire off a few test shots. This would be a good time to look at the technical bits, and also use the opportunity to show the subject roughly what you're aiming for.
I find that most if not all people who are being photographed EXPECT to be told what to do. And if your request isn't a silly one, they are generally very compliant. Afterall, they're entrusting you to make sure a good picture of them is taken.
What works for you? Leave a comment of your experience.