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Getting the Portrait You Want

Whether you’re getting a professional head shot done, an engagement session, or having the entire family get together for pictures, the odds are good that you have a certain vision in mind for the outcome.  There are a few things you can do, to make sure that you are getting exactly the portrait you want.

 1. Communicate

Before you even book your shoot, talk to your photographer.  Make sure their style suits the vision you have.  Some photographers excel at images with dramatic lighting and a more candid style.  Others are into outdoor scenes, where the scenery’s as much a part of the image as the subjects.  You can have a photographer who excels at working in a studio with controlled lighting and precise posing.  Be clear on the style of photography you want.  Talk to your photographer and make sure you’re compatible.

2.  Communicate – Part 2

I’ve had customers come into the Studio with printed photos, or emailed me a Pinterest page with the styles that interest them.  I’m sure some photographers would find this annoying, but I welcomed it.  These images create a dialogue between me and the client.  I can see what appeals to them and can set my mind to best putting together what they’re after.

Though it’s worth noting, as I tell my customers, they won’t receive those exact poses.  They can expect something in that vein, but there are often considerations such as lighting and mobility to consider.  Also, a magazine picture that looks fun, breezy and spontaneous probably has hours worth of work going into it.  As long as you can temper your expectation in that regard, I think it’s wonderful to come in with some ideas.

If you’re getting a head shot done and you don’t want the traditional sort of image, you should feel free to come in with a few examples of styles you like.  If you’re not comfortable with how the shoot is going, speak up, rather than simply endure it.

3.  Adaptability

Adaptability is an essential tool in photography.  If you have an equipment malfunction, you transition to your backup gear and carry on without a hitch.  There are always complications, whether it’s traffic or weather.

I had a bride a while back who had sent me a number of images prior to her wedding.  She was really into the highly posed images and wanted to do some elaborate things with her wedding party.  My partner and I gathered some additional props, brainstormed for days and were ready for the challenge.

Complication:  The weather.

It wound up being so frigid on the day of her wedding that the wedding party could only stand to be outside for ten minutes, at most.  We ended up going to three different locations, partly for variety, but mostly so we all had the chance to warm up.  This obviously put a damper on some of the more intricate shot concepts, but as we drove, my partner and I were able to come up with a few that used the props and told a fun story, but didn’t require huge amounts of set up.  In the end, because we and the wedding party were adaptable to the complications of the day, we still wound up with some really stunning shots.

This advice might seem somewhat simplistic, but you would be amazed at how often these issues come up.  Some of them are out of your control, like unforeseen travel delays or inclement weather, but there are things you can do about it.

In the end, clarity and adaptability are your best friends.  Have an idea in mind before you walk in the door, but try to be flexible enough to work around the inconveniences that occasionally crop up.

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