When I was assigned to photograph Charleston Pierce, I may have been given the easiest assignment ever. Charleston is a fixture in the San Francisco Bay Area modeling and entertainment communities. With a career spanning twenty-five years in an industry where some last only weeks, Charleston Pierce is now sharing his experience through his talent workshops and producing charity fashion events throughout the Bay Area. With Charleston’s recently published book, “Star Walk: Embrace Your Inner Power and Find Success on the Runway of Life”, he now shares his knowledge with a broader audience.
In the third of our Tips for Great Portraits or Headshots, we asked Charleston for some tips on feeling comfortable in front of the camera. (The photo here are ones I created with Charleston.)
As a professional model and a great subject in photos, how do you look so comfortable in your photos?
Embrace your inner beauty and yourself. If you love yourself, that will come through. This is who I am and how I am made. Embrace that. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. When I smile, I smile because I am happy with who I am.
What about varying your expressions?
Be open to every emotion in life. Practice looking sad, looking happy, looking powerful. Practice in a mirror before the shoot. Think of things that have made you feel the emotion and tap into that for the photo.
What can we do with our hands?
A universal gesture is putting them in your pockets. Fold your arms. Fold them behind you. Once again tap into your emotions, tell a little story in your head. Pick up a book, glass of wine or a cat or something. Whatever it takes to relax you. Bring up your hands and then down. Tell someone a story about a good memory, have them watch your hands and tell you what you did.
How about body positioning to the camera?
Face the camera with your chest to start. Keep it straight forward and simple. Again, practice in the mirror before the shoot.
I know you are usually the star, but what about when you are with another person in a photo or are in a group?
When I am in a shot with a group of people, I try to create an action that looks natural. Again, come up with a story. Connect with the people that surround you. Embrace them and the moment.
Any other tips?
Music on the set. Laughter. Tell jokes. Dance. Do anything to get people to open up. Take deep breaths. Try to get relaxed.