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How to Take Portraits that Stand Out

In the US consumers have access to portrait studios at every nearly mini -mart, shopping mall, and super store on the block. There’s Intouch. Flash! Picture It. Sears. Olen Mills. Lifetouch. Celebrity Kids. Picture Me – And those are just the chains. Add to that every other studio offering a twenty dollar session option, and we have thousands upon thousands of portrait studio’s all around us.

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In this industry the only way to truly stand out as a portrait photographer is to show through – your portraits – that you have a different perspective of people than anyone else. In Portraiture capturing that perspective means knowing yourself, your style, and your loves and incorporating them into your sessions.

This may be easier said than done, but with a bit of ingenuity and enthusiasm, you might be surprised by how uniquely you can build your portrait sessions. Take the following ideas as a starting point – and add your own personality, perspective, and creativity to your portrait sessions.

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Plan a Themed Shoot

Portrait Shoots with a theme are popping up in E-Sessions everywhere! These sessions can be incredibly fun and create a dynamic result! The key in developing these shoots is taking the time to ask questions and base the session off a theme that your client is excited about.

  • Have a session “planning meeting”. While this is an extra step, it’s also an opportunity to connect on a personal level.
  • Ask questions about their “favorite things”, or era’s in history that they had a love for. You may draw inspiration from the “Shabby Chic” way that their home is decorated, or the fact that they love going to Broadway plays. Whatever the case, be sure that the theme will be a reflection of your client.
  • Do your research. What kind of props will fit well with your theme? Help your client out by giving suggestions of where they might be able to find these props.

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Setup a LifeStyle Shoot

No other kind of portrait shoot can facilitate capturing your subjects personality and style more than the environments they are most comfortable within. In a LifeStyle shoot, you have the flexibility to plan the session in the families kitchen as they make cookies together, or outside their favorite ice-cream stand as they lick cones. These shoots aren’t as “set up” as typical photoshoots, challenging you to capture their authentic life as it happens.

  • Never put the camera down between shots because sometimes the magic happens when your subjects forget they are being photographed.
  • Watch their expressions and environment: A lifestyle shoot is about the whole – drawing each piece together to bring a unified shoot. Capture this.
  • Know the environment you are photographing in: If you are shooting at their home, be sure to do a quick run through before to evaluate the available light. Do this ahead of time to anticipate that indoors, you may want additional lighting options.

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Network with a Glamour Shoot

Utilizing additional resources for a Glamour shoot may be just what a client needs to boost their self confidence. Sometimes people don’t know how beautiful they are without a little bit of help. Glamour sessions insure a “high fashion” or “beauty” aim for each and every shot. The poses, the hair, the makeup, and the location all contribute to this end.

  • Ask your client if he or she has a personal stylist who would be willing and available to work with you.
  • Ask around your own networks to find a few capable stylists in your area. Contact these individuals and suggest a partnership opportunity to pass along business and collaborate on photo shoots.
  • Be sure to make the partnership a “win-win”. Perhaps the client pays for the stylist, but offer the stylist a few 8×10 prints from each shoot for his or her portfolio.

Don’t know what kind of photo shoot you’d rock? Experiment with friends before launching these shoots for pay. You may find that you enjoy the variety of each kind of shoot. Just remember that it is important to specialize, developing a particular style distinctive to your own work.

Go for it. You just may give those portrait studios a run for their money.

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Christina N Dickson
Christina N Dickson

is a visionary artist and philanthropist in Portland Oregon. Her work includes wedding photography www.BrideInspired.com and leadership with www.RevMediaBlog.com.

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