[Leica Film Photography] My way of taking a memorable portrait shot.

Over the years, I tried to learn the best way to shoot portrait photos. My goal was to capture the most natural moment even if he or she is a total stranger to me. I haven’t mastered my way yet but I believe I begin to feel comfortable shooting a total stranger.

The first approach was to talk to a person I am going to shoot for a few minutes, then when I believe I broke the ice, I began shooting. However, if you shoot a non-professional model, they are at a loss in terms of how to pose or where to look while shooting. So I realized that I should keep talking to my subject.

Leica M7, Voigtlander Nokton 40mm F/1.4 | Kodak ProImage 100 film
Leica M7, Voigtlander Nokton 40mm F/1.4 | Kodak ProImage 100 film

As an example, this shot was taken when I asked my model to think about her future. She began to ponder about it, then usually I get to see various facial expressions. While waiting for the right moment, I pressed my shutter.

Leica M7, Voigtlander Nokton 40mm F/1.4 | Kodak ProImage 100 film
Leica M7, Voigtlander Nokton 40mm F/1.4 | Kodak ProImage 100 film

Then I asked another question. “What would you feel when you fulfilled your dream?” She began to make a beautiful smile. If I’ve simply asked her to smile, the chances are this photo would look very different in an awkard way.

Leica MP, Voigtlander Nokton 40mm F/1.4 | Kodak Portra 160 film
Leica MP, Voigtlander Nokton 40mm F/1.4 | Kodak Portra 160 film

Sometimes, I ask one question, then ask my model to wait for my next question as if I needed time to think about it. Often times, I get an interesting look in my photo while my subject is waiting for my next question.

Leica MP, Voigtlander Nokton 40mm F/1.4 | Kodak Portra 160 film
Leica MP, Voigtlander Nokton 40mm F/1.4 | Kodak Portra 160 film

Shooting a total stranger is a very challenging task. Unless you have an unlimited budget, your time is quite limited for an hour or two. If you want to get the best out of it, you need to ask the right question or engage a friendly conversation. Of course, this conversation shouldn’t interfere with your shooting experience. If you are caught up with a conversation, this will bother your primary goal of shooting portrait photos.

Well, I hope I could give you an interesting perspective on how to get a memorable portrait photo.