Sometimes your subject just sits or stands there, looking awkward and lost. Your photo shows the struggle. Well, I have an easy solution for you, introduce a prop.
It gives something for the subject to be engaged with, to fill their hands with, to come alive. This is especially true for children. With the right prop or toy, they will soon forget the camera and focus on this new thing, leaving you with endless opportunities for amazing photographs.
It can be a hat, a cane, something from their hobbies. For women it can be something as simple as high heels, putting them on, admiring them.
It gives you focus, too, an element you both can become creative with. For example, I was photographing an expectant mother, who had brought along an image of their baby’s sonogram. I had her hold it up extending towards the camera, it hid her breasts, revealed her tummy and even though out of focus, you could see her big smile.
When photographing two young children, mom had brought along a simple train set with wooden tracks. When the kids started assembling it, working together, I laid on the floor with my long lens to get the most intimate images of their concentration.
Outdoors, it could be a long stick on the ground. It does not need to be planned. However, having your subject engaged with something of importance lets you get deeper into who they are. Ask questions about it, watch for the changing expressions. All personal props have history attached to them – emotional history.
This is what elevates an image from a snap shot to prized image. Next time, try it.