I bundled up, this past Sunday morning, for a portrait session with the lovely Ruth who was looking to build some marketing materials for her Life Coaching business. Despite temperatures of 25 degrees and the snow that started to come down (not to mention the icy river wind) Ruth rocked this session in mile high heals and an awesome pink coat. I loved the pink with The ‘Burgh’s yellow bridges in the background. And, seriously, you can’t even tell she was frozen! Keep reading for my 5 Best Newbie Portrait Photography Tips.
My 5 Best Newbie Portrait Photography Tips:
1. Don’t be afraid to direct your client to set up a great shoot. You may be new at the whole photo thing. But hopefully you are doing this because you have a great artistic eye and are ready to translate your creativity through your camera. For this shoot, I suggested a bright or bold coat and using the bridges of our beautiful city as the backdrop.
2. Maintain interesting angles. Nothing is worse (to me) than a static pose. Straight arms, a head on expression, no tilt or gesture- these poses become very unnatural and aren’t usually flattering. Help your client create interesting negative space between arms and sides, using legs and knees, so there is something visually grounding about the composition of your picture. Diagonal lines (in body limbs, architecture etc.) help to lead a viewers eye in and out of a picture keeping it interesting.
3. Come prepared. Beyond the actual taking of the pictures, come with prepared equipment, spare parts if you have them, extra batteries and a blank memory card. Also, be aware of your elements! In this photo shoot, I would have been LOST without my gloves and all the winter gear I had on. I went back and forth before heading out to the shoot on how bundled up I wanted to be. Thank goodness I brought my hat scarf and gloves or I would have been too cold to shoot. Same goes for shooting in the heat or rain or anything else- try and think about what you might need, plan ahead, and bring it!
4. SPEAK! Talk to your client during the session. A simple, “This looks great!” can go a long way in relaxing your client enough to get more natural expressions. Tell them what is working. Try to talk about your surroundings, joke if you can, ask them about their life, their work, their shoes- whatever it is you can start a conversation about. Make them forget about the pictures and think about something else. I know this is hard when you first start! The pressure is on and you are probably most concentrated on the little black device in your hands. But creating a connection with the subject of your shoot is just as important as capturing it on film.
5. Arrive early. If you can give yourself even 5 minutes to “canvas the area” before your client shows up- you’ll be miles ahead when you begin. Chances are, you’ll need to find quite a few backdrops for the portrait session to give your client options and present a variety of images that capture different moods, colors and textures. If you have a plan in place before your client shows up, you can move seamlessly from space to space snapping away as you go.
Good luck, fellow newbie photogs, and good luck to you, Ruth!