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Lori Duncan in 2015Lori, like many of us, loathes having her picture taken. It’s been a challenge to get her buy-in for a photo session collaboration; and it must be a collaboration between subject and photographer for it to work.

I think in Lori’s case I’ve found the combination of factors that makes a session work.  First: brevity.  The session we did that yielded easily a half dozen nice portrait variations took a grand total of less than 4 minutes.  For her.  It took me a couple hours to set up everything and do multiple tests of lighting to get things dialed in so she could arrive, get right to it, and get it finished with no annoying fussing, delays, or distractions.

Second: banter.  We talked and joked through the 4 minutes about everything except camera settings, lighting ratios, posing, etc.  I told her it was forbidden to smile or say cheese which she found amusing enough to distract from the grim determined task of forcing the fraudulent manic grin so common in us reluctant subjects.  Our attention was on our personal interaction, not the camera–that enabled capturing a series of relaxed natural expressions.

Third: it was understood there would be a glass of wine waiting at the end of the (brief) session.  The payoff beckoned.

It didn’t hurt that I’ve had 12 years of cajoling her to allow me to point a camera at her.  She’s somewhat worn down to the inevitability by now.  I’m not sure how portable that factor is to other subjects though.

I’m giddy from the success of our portrait session, and I think she is too:  viewing one of the images she said “that one isn’t totally horrible”.  Goosebumps. It just doesn’t get much better than that.