Flash, bang, hold on a minute ...

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The Independent Online
There is one thing that photography manuals always omit - instructions on what a portrait photographer should say to the sitters. It is commonly supposed that "Say cheese" is the only phrase necessary. Far from it, as an inspection of this list of basic phrases will reveal.



Right! Let's go!

Hold on ...

Something wrong ...

I can't get the camera to ...

I can't quite see ...

Oh, I see what's wrong.

How stupid ...




Let's go ... !

No, as you were ...

I don't think the film has ...

There seems to be something wrong with the ...

Relax for a moment while I sort out the ...

OK, all systems go!

Let's go for it!

Close together now!


You'll have to get closer than that!

I can't get you all in ...

Can't you get any closer than that?

Don't be afraid to be friendly with each other!

Hands round each ...

Not too friendly!

Can the big one move round and stand at the back, please?

Yes, you, sir ...


OK, closer again.

Look at the camera ...

Look at the ...

Look at the little birdy.

That's fine!

That's perfect!



Nice big ...

Everyone smile?

Madam, can you smile too?

Could someone make her smile?

Does anyone know how to ...

Thank you!

Ready now?

OK, great big smile!

Nice ...

Big ...

I'm afraid you've all moved.

Close together now.

Closer ...

Gentleman on the left, if you please.

No, other gentleman ...

On my left, your right ...

Gentleman scratching his head ...

That's the one!

No, just stop scratching ...

Hands down!

That's it.


OK, ready?

Right - let's go for it!


Close together.


One more!

Another one!

Keep smiling!

Nice and still!



Super !

Gentleman at the back, tall fellow, yes, you, sir, if you could stop making those funny faces, because it seems funny now, but it doesn't look very good in the final photograph, I would appreciate it ...




Now I want you all to ...

Are you all listening?

Now I want you all to look slightly serious.

That's it.

Can't have people grinning in every photo. Looks manic after a while.

I want you all to look as if this wasn't a wedding.

More as if it were a funeral.

Funny thing, that. Have you ever noticed that we take photos at weddings, but we never take group photos at funerals? Odd, that.

As a group photographer, I disapprove.

It could double our income overnight if people had photos at funerals.

I want you all to think seriously about it.

Having a photographer to your funeral, I mean.

Having me, specifically.

I'll give you all my card.

I'm sorry about all this nattering. I'm just filling in time while I change this film.

Or divorces, of course.

Nobody ever has photos taken at divorces.

Of course, nobody has parties for divorces.

They should do.

I had a party for my divorce.

It was a stag party, actually.

Thought we should end up the way we started.


Right, we're there now.

I think ...

At this point the photographer should say: "OK, same again with flash" and go through the whole routine once more. Then he should say: "OK, just one roll of black and white" and go through the whole routine again. When the first sitter starts to have a nervous breakdown, he should say "just one more to be on the safe side ..."