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We all make plans and we all have expectations. Then when portrait photography, we want these plans to work well. We’ve got customers to please, memories to create and stories to tell. Plus clients have expectations. They want their pictures to look a certain way. They’ve hired you to recreate that vision.
So when the best-laid plans fall apart, you’ve got to adapt. If you’re shooting portraits professionally, you need to remember that part of the reason you are being paid is you can produce great images no matter the circumstance. This is the difference between you and an amateur. You have the skills and know how to make any situation work.
I can’t stress this enough. It’s important to meet with clients and discuss plans for the shoot. Among the topics, you should discuss a backup plan. What will do if the weather doesn’t cooperate for an outdoor shoot? What if the children won’t cooperate by sitting in a tree? There are all sorts of possibilities, and you need to discuss the fact that sometimes the plans may have to change.
Sometimes the simple solution is setting an alternate date in case of weather issues. Other times you might discuss the need to use a different location. I love shooting family sessions outdoors. I’ll be honest, I prefer it. Natural light is my best friend, and I have very little patience for setting up studio lights. If at all possible I shoot outdoors. But recently I had a situation where I was unable to set up a “rain date”. The family had only one day together, and if the session didn’t occur on that specific date, well it just wasn’t going to happen. But, I made a mistake, I forgot to discuss alternate plans.
On the date of the session, the weather was cold, grey, blustery and very unpleasant. We could have shot the session outdoors but the wind wasn’t going to help my cause, and it was too cold outside for their small children. I don’t think the kids would have cooperated. I was lucky, my clients were flexible, and we quickly worked to discuss an alternate plan.
They had a beautiful, large bay window. So we shifted some furniture, hung up my large white sheet as a backdrop, and used a large couch as a prop. It wasn’t an ideal setting, but it did the trick. My clients were happy with the results, and that’s all that matters.
Portrait photography is often unpredictable but isn’t that the fun of it all? You never know what’s going to happen. Enjoy the rush that comes from turning a potential disaster into an amazing opportunity. Let it test your skills and push the limits of your creativity. Leave us some your tips for managing the unexpected in the comments section below. Tell us your anecdotal stories. We want to hear it all.
Leave us some your tips for managing the unexpected in the comments section below. Tell us your anecdotal stories. We want to hear it all.