I have been photographing PEOPLE for a very long time- I consider my work to be successful because I tend to consistently satisfy my clients and their needs, wants and professional requirements. I have photographer actors, models, business people, adults, kids, a few VIPs and just ordinary folks. I believe the key to successful portraiture is a combination of good photographic technique and establishing a good photographer/subject working relationship or connection during the sitting or session. To me, every subject is a different individual with a unique personality, facial structure and not every subject or client has the same requirements or desires. Therefore, not every client calls for the same psychological or physical approach. I have never asked a subject to manipulate their face, expression or any of the facial musculature in a certain manner. I prefer to analyze the face, decide on a lighting and camera position and converse in a natural and friendly manner and discover the best expressions- sometimes it's a matter of timing, instinct and good judgment that comes with experience.
This is my methodology and I don't foist in on anyone else. I also like to see and learn how other photographers work. I have attended many workshops and seminars over the years and have read lots of related literature and looked at a good number of audio-visual programs. Many of the photographers who get into the seminar and workshop circuit develop a "sthick"! "Schtick" is a Yiddish word that literally means "piece" but has taken on a show business term that has come to mean an "act" or signature idea. It can also be said to be a "rule of thumb". Theses things are cool and cute but I don't feel that every schtick works for every situation and professionalism, common sense and experience must govern the application of any methodology. Oftentimes what works for any individual photographer, based on his or her personality, will not necessarily work well for others- we are all individual and unique people as well.
I don't like to say I HATE the work of any other photographer- I prefer to say that there are styles that I will embrace or even emulate and apply to my own style and there is work out there that I am not particularly impressed with. I can understand how others promote their ideas and I know and understand what I can do, what I want to do and what may be beyond my understanding and capabilities. I prefer not to bash anyone else's work. When I teach, I prefer to stick to the basics, share my approaches and inspire students and trainees to apply their own talents and creativity.
Hey, folks, I may be wrong- after all, I am not a world famous headshot photographer but I do make a living at photographing PEOPLE!