A Few Portraiture Tips From My Interview With A Pro

by | May 30, 2016 | Tips & Tricks | 0 comments

I was putting together the PRO Report for the PRO members today and spent some time making a transcript from an interview I had broadcasted with fine art portrait photographer Laura Johnson.The hour-long interview was all about how to help young people get started in portrait photography and covered so many different subjects that it took three Lenspiration Livecast segments to complete. Here are links to watch the three segments:

Intro page (small)

Since I was putting together a transcript today, I thought a little piece of it might be helpful to share here on the blog.

James: What process do you follow in guiding a family portrait session from beginning to end?

Laura: It’s such a broad question I can’t get into a lot of detail, but I can give you a general outline for now.

You want to greet them with a smile and a handshake, be confident, and not leave them waiting around. They will be uncomfortable if they don’t know what they are going to do, so you need to go in right away, be the professional, and take charge.

Starting out with the family portrait is usually best unless not everyone is there. If groups in multiple cars don’t show up at the same time, than sometimes you’ll have to start out with some of the breakdowns, but preferably start out with the family portrait.

Then, depending on the ages of the kids, you can do another family portrait just to give variety and interest, or you can do some breakdowns to give the kids some time to run around and have fun. I have puppets for the kids and different surprises that I bring out at different points during the session because it’s best to always have something unexpected that they don’t know what’s going to come. Keep their attention on you, because if you are not the most interesting thing there, their eyes are going to be somewhere else, and it will be a lot harder to get those eyes back to you. So try to have a lot of things up your sleeve.

We will do all sorts of breakdowns, whether it’s the whole family, then the mom and dad together, the kids together, mom and the girls, dad and the guys, or visa verse, and then different siblings and individual portraits. I’ve also asked ahead of time what is most important for the mom because sometimes she has something that I haven’t thought of, or didn’t value as that important, but to her is really important or signify something in their lives that is important.

You have to go with their family feeling. Some families are laid back, they want to enjoy stuff, they want to have fun, they want to just laugh. Some families are very much “Lets get it done”, “Let’s get it done fast and quickly”. So if you joke around too much or if you do other stuff that isn’t important to them, then they will get frustrated. So, try to feel who they are.

And then, after the session, I take them up to my view and order room. I show them different portrait sizes, options, and we talk a little bit about price, and what to expect. I have toys there for the kids to play with while I’m talking with the grown ups, and a little treasure chest for the kids as a reward after their session . . .

And I could go on and on from there! In fact, that’s not even the end of that one question. And yet that was only one of many questions! Here are some of the other things we talked about:

  • The type of equipment you need for portraiture
  • What kind of portraits sell
  • Where to get pictures printed
  • How to get natural looking expressions
  • What to bring with you on a photoshoot
  • Number of poses to do during a photoshoot
  • Considerations on how to present yourself during a photoshoot
  • How to manage and expedite the editing process
  • How to get customers to take you seriously

This sort of material makes for great content in things like the PRO Reports! If you are looking for training in a specific area of photography, or simply want to take your photography to a deeper level, consider joining the PRO Membership and we’ll find a professional who will help us learn and grow in the areas that mean the most to you.

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