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Great photo not a snap

Firooz Zahedi, celeb


Q: How can I take an amazing photographic portrait?

A: First, you have to know how to take a picture. There are a lot of people right now wandering around with digital cameras, thinking they're photographers. Unfortunately, I don't think a lot of them know what they are doing. When you take a portrait, you have to understand that it's about the person you're photographing; it's not about you. People think they are stylists, but in the end if you don't capture the essence of the person you're photographing then you really haven't taken a good portrait. And in order to get the person to give you their best, you have to be the secondary person, you have to give them the room to move, to express themselves and feel comfortable. You can't be too controlling, you have to know how to set up good lights, and you should know the technical side of things.

The most important thing is knowing how to put someone at ease, letting them know you're not there to just take advantage of them, that you want them to look good and want them to be happy and you want the essence of that person to show. A lot of celebrities close up for portraits; they don't really like to reveal themselves because they are used to playing roles as actors and actresses. So, in order to get to know the real person, you have to get to know them by talking to them, and once that's happened and you've got their confidence, then you've got them.

Coming Feb. 7: Superchef Michelle Bernstein on keeping culinary peace in the family.