On occasions I'm asked to provide a portrait shoot, as part of my wedding business I often take pre - wedding shoot's usually in the city of Bath and occasionally at a National Trust property, there are several very close to us here in Beckington on the Somerset border.
A pre - wedding shoot (I feel) is slightly different to a portrait shoot, a pre - wedding photo shoot is the perfect time for the engaged couple to become used to having their photo taken and the best way to help them feel comfortable in front of the lens (for me personally) is to let the client's chat away, walk together and capture natural image's, give them plenty of time to feel at ease before I move closer to create more intimate image's.
For me a portrait photo shoot takes on a slightly different approach, yes, I still need to help the client feel at ease however the client has requested the portrait session therefore they understand that this requires a little more direction on my part, what do I mean?
Firstly, let me explain, I've never been a fan of the studio portrait session, where the white backdrop is used with full on flash, I prefer using natural lighting and choosing a location that has a connection with the client, this could be their favourite place that has memories for the couple (Family) or even in their home, with the warmth and memories from the home. I find this helps relax the client but more importantly impact's on the image.
The next part is looking for the light, I find a great way to help with this, is to slightly close my eye's, sound's strange but it really helps me to see the tone's, the shadow's and area's that show the ambient light. If the portrait session is on location, this can be straight forward however, inside a home can be a bit more of a challenge, on occasion's bouncing flash toward the natural light source is headed, this work's perfectly when I bounce the flash toward the window, just aiding the natural light.
Another small tip, if you're taking a shoot in the home, look for thing's, such as lamp's or flower's anything that help's personalize the photo.
Ok, location set, lighting looking great, now it's time to look, I mean really look at your subject, connect with your subject, I know it may sound a little full on however you want eye contact, you have to get a reaction from your portrait, when a person focuses on the eye's, the iris opens, the eye's shine, this is what you're after, this isn't scary, it must be done in a completely natural and friendly way but it makes the image come alive, after all, they do say " the eye's are the window's to the soul!" So when taking those images where the client is looking at you, connect with the eyes!
Next, take your hand and ask the subject to follow your hand with the eye's, ensure they move their head too, look carefully and you will see how different the subject appears as they move, this helps me find the perfect shot, sometimes a profile isn't always the most pleasing. Sometimes a photo taken directly from the front is perfect for your subject.
All set, now take those photos, move as you shoot, talk to the client, another tip, if they have a family member or friend with them, have them look at them, this always gets a personal reaction and again watch those eyes shine, I use this little trick when providing my wedding photography service, its a great way to capture emotion in the photo, try it, you may be surprised at the difference it makes.
With these Photo shoot I was using my Fuji X100t, this allowed me to get up close and personal, the lovely couple could relax because that little camera is perfect and so unobtrusive.
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