Know Your Camera Well
It may seem like a straightforward piece of advice but often people spend a lot of money on their camera equipment without taking the time to learn how they can get the best / most out of it.
All photographers, from beginners right up to pro, should have a basic routine that includes spending time on getting to really know your camera. This includes learning which way the lens focuses and how you can quickly attach it without looking as well as knowing how to remove and insert a memory card quickly and efficiently. By doing so, you'll quicken the photo taking process which will save you precious time. The key is to remember the camera is a tool and by really knowing how it works, you can almost make it disappear so you can focus on what's important and that's taking photos.
Know How To Hold Your Camera Correctly
Again, another basic tip but it's very important to know how to do it correctly as good support is essential. Take the time to learn what's best for you, cradling the lens in your left hand and positioning your right so you don't have to move it between shots.
You need to really like what you photograph and find it easy to get along with people as if you're shy, you will have a difficult time.
Have A Good Rapport
The first time I meet someone I don't take my camera as I want them to get to know me as me and not as 'the man with a camera'. You want them to be comfortable and having a camera with you can put a barrier between you and them. Be pleasant, friendly and when possible, get to really know them before you start taking photos of them.
If someone asks you: "Do you like dentists?" many will answer: "No" without taking the time to actually think about the person who is the dentist. The same can happen with photography as some people already decide they don't like having their photo taken even before they've met the photographer or had their portrait shot and it's your job to change this perception.
Once you get to the shoot, you still need to be friendly and complimentary even when giving direction. You'll probably find that your subject is 'stiff' for the first few shots you take while they get 'into' the session. Often it helps to take a few photos then stop and have a conversation with your subject as they will relax, thinking the shoot is over, and you'll often find this is the time they fall into poses they're comfortable with. Take advantage of this and begin to ask them to 'hold their pose', complimenting them in the process.
For more information about Drew and his photography, visit his website: Drew Gardner Photography