Fashion/Portraits can be intimidating for beginners, as there seems there’s lots of pressure on the photographer to not only get the best photos but make the client feel comfortable.
In my career and as a previous Sony α Imaging Collective Ambassador and current ZEISS Camera Lenses Ambassador I’ve learned a lot in the decade I’ve been a photographer. Here are 6 key things that I think will make your sessions with your clients successful!
1. Use Prime Lenses
Currently all of my photos of people are taken with primes lenses, such as the, ZEISS Otus 1.4/100mm, ZEISS Batis 1.8/85mm and ZEISS 1.8/55mm. These lenses produce some of the most stunning results when you use them at their widest aperture. The stunning bokeh (out of focus - blurry background) they provide and the ability to really separate your subject from the surrounding background makes them great choices. They also provide you with the sharpest image quality you can obtain.
My collection now includes several prime lenses that I utilize for my portraits. They give me a variety of choices for different shooting scenarios, whether I want the best image compression or need the widest possible frame, if my shooting location doesn’t permit me to be a further distance away from my client.
For even greater performance also try manual focusing, like the Otus 100mm lens. When you have total control over every aspect of your image it really makes you feel more apart of it, than if you allow the camera and lens to do all the work for you.
2. Shoot RAW!
To take full advantage of your camera’s capabilities and have complete control over your images then you’d want to shoot in RAW. I’m able to make the photos the way that I want and obtain the maximum possible image quality.
I like to have my images perfect, straight from the camera. Once I choose to go into post it’s basically creating the final look that I want my image to have, to make it pop further. This is only possible when you’re shooting in RAW, to have the flexibility to adjust your image however you choose before you finalize the image into your final JPEG file. Grant it, if you're able to obtain what you want straight from the camera then this isn't "as" important to do. In photographing with the right glass this step can be avoided, but again - that calls for GOOD glass!!
3. Composition can make things greater
Be mindful of your surroundings. As an on-location photographer you have a lot that may be around where you’re shooting and it’s important to take in all that’s available to you and seeing just how you can work something into your image, or position your client to. Make sure that it makes sense for the story you’re trying to tell through your imagery as well, however. The worst thing you’d want to do is have a stellar image, but with something that you’d wish wasn’t in your shot and is obvious.
If you happen to have a decent photo, try re-positioning yourself as well. That could be the difference from a decent photo to the money shot! Things will look different from various angles so take the same shot from different angles to get the best vantage point.
4. Directing is Key
Especially if this is your clients first professional shoot, you want them to be relaxed. Loosen them up by engaging with them like a friend, asking about their day, make jokes. This helps them connect with you and bring out their fun, energetic side! You want to capture those in the moment photos, that has great emotions and really shows their true character. Whether it’s your first shoot or your 100th, it can be a nervous situation for any photographer and you yourself have to be comfortable as well.
I always think about what am I going to do with this person?! What’s the best location, how will the photos come out? Every possible negative thing goes through my mind, but once the shoot starts and I’m comfortable then I really get in the moment and can direct my clients and see things as I shoot that will work and things that don’t work I see those too and can be quick to try something else.
Own the shoot, don’t let it own you! Feel confident in your ability and willingness to take charge to make the shoot turn out as best as it could possibly be for you and the client.
5. Master Natural Lighting
Take advantage of the light that’s provided to you everyday for free, natural light! Whether you’re in a building and have a window or you’re outside with clouds providing a natural reflector, use that to your advantage. There are many who prefer studio situations, so they can control the lighting environment entirely, but I like to use 100% natural light and working that into my shoots. Once you learn how to utilize the ever changing natural light it really makes those instances when you are using studio lights be even easier to setup for your shoots.
6. Be Prepared for the Unexpected
Being out on-location can bring for situations you didn’t plan for. Always be prepared for everything, whether you may think you have to or not!
I had a shoot (above image) where the sun was out beautifully and all of a sudden a severe thunderstorm came out of no where. We didn’t stop the shoot and kept shooting in the rain, which led to some of the most amazing Fashion photos I’ve ever produced! It was great that I had gear that was all weather sealed and could continue the shoot.
Things will happen that may be the one thing that makes an already amazing shoot turn into one that unique and unforgettable for both you and your client.
I hope this blog was informative and answered any questions you’ve had for capturing better fashion/portrait images. If you have any more questions, leave a comment below.