Portrait photography, Where do I start. Possibly the most complex of subjects in photography So much to learn and so many unknowns during your session that even basic portrait photography can be extremely complex. The aim of your session is to produce pleasing images for not only your client but also to the person who views it. In order to achieve this many factors have to be taken into consideration. Light, composition, choice of location whether in a studio or on location and depth of field impact hugely on your final product. However, the biggest impact on your images and results will be the connection you have with your clients. Don’t be daunted by the massive choices of cameras, lights, lenses and settings out there, it’s easier than you think. All of these play into making your shoot a success.
One of your first considerations has to be the location. Inside a studio or outdoors. It will help if this location is somewhere that your subject is comfortable. Unless you’re working with a professional model, then it will need to be somewhere where your subject/s has a connection to, somewhere they feel safe and at ease. The location may also be better at certain times of the day when sunlight will produce subtle tones which will have a better impact on your images. This is something you should check when pre planning your shoot .
Personally as a photographer I always prefer Natural light. When planning your shoot go to the location beforehand roughly at the time of day you plan on shooting to see the best place for the light. Whether shooting in slight shade, heavy shade or direct sunlight will give you a wide variety of options that only you can decide on. Determining the look you are after and your ability to make use of what you have.
Settings Time to take yourself off of the AUTO setting. Shutter speed. Aperture, F stop ISO. Depth of field. This is probably the hardest thing to master and the most important one for creating stunning images. Getting to know your settings and be able to quickly and confidently change them as needed is key. The more complex your session becomes, the more important this will be. Being able to change your settings quickly and confidently in front of customers/clients without panicking will go a long way to building their trust quicker.. Knowing what each setting does and how it affects the others will enable you to get a variety of different looking shots much quicker. Start with a really low f
stop giving you a buttery out-of-focus background then changing to f5.6 or f6.3 maybe enabling more attention to other elements in the scene. You might even change to low shutter speed while asking your model to remain still while you blur other moving objects in the scene.
One thing you should be aware of is distractions around you. If shooting outside it maybe a pylon or telephone pole or a lonesome tree. If shooting indoors then maybe a fire extinguisher or an object on the wall. Checking before the shoot will save you time editing after. Doing this will let your subject know that you’re working towards the best image you can.
Putting your subject at Ease.
You need to remember that everything you do affects your subject. Remember that your subject will put all their faith and trust in YOU. And needs to know you are doing all you can to produce great images which will relax them and give you both the finish product you are looking for. Ultimately something that will please the person looking at it and the person in it.Your ability to choose the right location, correct use of light and your technical knowhow, paying attention to detail is key in any shoot you do. Remember your subject is the most important thing in your shoot. If they are trusting and have faith in your abillity then they will be more relaxed allowing their emotions to show in front of the camera. Talk to them in a quiet calm voice ask how they are, maybe a joke or two. Making them smile, happy and relaxed. Remember being friendly and a friend to them and a guide for them will benefit your pictures no end.
Always take more images then you need, you can never have enough. The subject may have eyes closed, hair may be slightly blurred if they move their head at the wrong time. This is easy if you are using digital cameraswhere memory is cheap and plentiful, however not so if using film of any kind so choose wisely if the later. Even if you think you have already taken ‘THESHOT’ take a few more, you may end up with another so keep shooting.
Finally and in conclusion
Remember PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE use your knowledge you have learnt on light, camera settings and composition and most importantly on your communication skills. Remember having a relaxed, happy and trusting subject will give you and them images to be proud of. HAPPY SHOOTING….