Open Shade

If possible, when shooting outdoors, try to find open shade for soft, flattering lighting. Of course, this may not always be the case depending on the style of imagery you intend to shoot, but for the most part, it will prove beneficial when shooting outdoors. If there are no structures to make open shade possible (trees, buildings, etc.), you can also introduce scrims to soften any harsh lighting.

In order to take advantage of the location where open shade is provided, you may have to shoot from angles that you might not otherwise choose; this is also true if the location is amazing and you want to highlight the architecture in your portraits (like you might at the Walt Disney Concert Hall).

When shooting from lower angles on a wide-angle lens, it’s important to remind your subjects to bend at the hip, down towards the camera, to help minimize the distortion that often accompanies shooting at low angles.

We also recommend making the most of each location and shooting for story. Rather than shoot in a dozen locations to produce as many shots, slow down and capture a variety of angles within each scene. Make sure to capture close-up details of your clients in addition to wide and medium portraits.

Be mindful of your subject’s positioning. If you’re subject appears stiff, or uncomfortable with their hand placement, for example, help them make adjustments to get into a more relaxed pose. One of the giveaways for an unnatural pose is having 90-degree angles in the arms, and especially the hands/wrists. The lines created by limbs should flow smoothly and not run into abrupt angles, unless of course that is the look you’re after (which you might commonly find in fashion photography.

If you ask your subjects to look toward one another for an intimate portrait, often times, it helps to suggest that one of the subjects slightly turn his/her chin more toward the camera so as not to directly face the other subject. Imagine having a conversation with another person. More often than not, you won’t likely stare at one another throughout the entire conversation. You may turn your head to listen, etc. When faces look directly at one another in a photograph, the image may appear more posed and less authentic.

It might also help to joke around with your subjects (depending on your subjects) in a professional manner to get them to open up and feel more comfortable throughout the shoot.