Pay Attention to Backdrops and Surroundings
I remember when I first began my journey into professional photography. I was so excited to have work, and I was working so hard on posing my clients just right, making sure my manual settings were perfect, (more about the manual settings in a later blog) and everything was great! I mean…it was great until I got home, loaded the images onto my computer, and began to edit. Holy moly! I was NOT paying attention to any of the backgrounds! There were objects like poles appearing to come straight out of the top of the heads of my clients, large electrical towers in the distance that no amount of blurred background could fix, and other items oddly placed that took me an incredible amount of additional time to edit out. By trial and error, I developed a specific system of setting up my outdoor portraits that helped me immensely in changing my mindset, my images, and my editing!
Here is the sequence of steps I follow when shooting outdoor portraits, and I do them in this specific order:
1. Check Lighting –Lighting is the most critical part of setting the stage for perfect images; if you are unfamiliar with the shooting location, get there a few minutes early to walk around and determine the best spots for lighting.
2. Check Background –Take a quick sample shot, not only to just make sure your settings are perfect but to zoom in on the subject and watch for awkward positions. Make sure no one is positioned in a way that it appears a tree limb is coming out of his head, or something as equally (or more) awkward! This step will help you will avoid so much additional editing in your post processing.
3. Check poses and details – Get everyone posed exactly as you want them, double check for awkward arm or hand placement, check that all hair is in place (wild hair can be extremely time-consuming to edit), and make sure everyone’s clothing is just right. For example, if a man’s arm sleeves are rolled up, make sure they BOTH rolled up. Take time to make sure dresses/tops are smoothed out. If, unfortunately, your clients arrive with a ton of wrinkles in their clothes, there isn’t much you can do for that, but you can make sure one side of a dress or top isn’t tucked in when it shouldn’t be.
4. Use Specific Prompts – This is where the “Everyone look at baby,” or “Look over your left shoulder and down,” instructions come in! When working with families, when you want them to look at each other and laugh, sometimes the elementary school kids can tell a quick joke to get the family giggling; sometimes they simply get tickled then you capture more genuine smiles and laughs!
Spend a few extra minutes planning and preparing to follow these steps and you will be amazed at the time and effort you will save in shooting and editing; it’s a win-win for you and your clients!
Did you love this post?! Then you will definitely enjoy my new e-book Photography Shooting and Editing Tips!
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