5 Things to Avoid During a Portrait Shoot

You’ve probably read a ton of articles on portrait this and portrait that, but if you already know what you’re doing and are doing it as a living, then all you may need to know is what to avoid, which will put you on the path to continuing to do what you already do well. Here are 5 tips on what to avoid during a portrait session that can save you time, money, stress and your reputation as a professional.

1 – Make Your Client Comfortable

Most clients will be very stiff and pose in a way that they think is the right way. As professional photographers it’s our job to make them loosen up, feel comfortable and give them solid direction. Put the camera down for a second, show them the pose you want either by showing them an image or posing yourself. Once they are comfortable they are more likely to act natural and feel confident in your direction.

2 – Don’t Shoot With the Intention to Retouch

Retouching and photoshotp/lightroom are a fact of life now and we need to deal with it. However, if you approach a photoshoot with the mentality that “I can fix this in post”, “I can remove this in post”, “I can add this in post”, then you will be giving yourself a very bad handicap. You need to start with the best image possible so that the finished product is even better. A mediocre attitude towards your shoos will result in a mediocre craft.

3 – Work With Favorable Lighting

Ideally, you should start out shooting during “golden hour”, when the sun is rising or setting we get very beautiful lighting which is great for photographers. Outside of this time, learn to shoot in favorable conditions, overcast, shade, etc. After that you can learn to deal with harsh lighting (diffusers, creating your own shade, etc), and then night time/low-light/artistic photography with Flash, etc. The main idea here is to start from a point where you are comfortable and learn and grow from there. Don’t start shooting night time low-light shoots if you haven’t shot in the other easier lighting situations, you’ll only set yourself and your client up for disappointment.

4 – Be Creative, not Technical

You’ve learned how to use your camera, you’ve got your settings set, now leave it alone. With the execption of iso, aperture and exposure you really shouldn’t be changing your settings or focusing on the technical pieces of the shoot. Focus your energy on creativity, on the model/client, on the shoot, on the lighting in the environment and the image that you are trying to capture. Right now is not the time to be going through the menu or mico-adjusting your settings.

5 – Failure is Okay, Keep Moving

If you had an idea that was great in your mind but terrible in execution, that’s okay. Just admit you were wrong, that it was a bad idea, for whatever reason it doesn’t matter and just move on. After all, you want to get the most out of the session and by struggling with a bad pose, bad environment, bad idea you aren’t going to be able to do that. You need to admit your defeat and move forward, try something else and always keep moving/progressing. Failures help us get better, but being stubborn about failure keeps us from growing.