Tips for the perfect portrait photography session

Unless you are a professional model or a celebrity used to cameras being pointed at you on a regular basis, chances are you will find being the subject of a professional portrait photography session an unnatural and potentially uncomfortable experience.  Yet there are several things that you can do to make the whole experience less intimidating and a lot more enjoyable. 

  • Build Trust With Your Photographer Through Preparation

A professional portrait photographer is exactly that – a professional.  Part of their role is to make their subjects feel as relaxed as possible, knowing that this will produce the best results.  Central to achieving this is in the preparation before the shoot.  A portrait photographer and their subject(s) should be a team, with everyone having a clear and shared understanding of the desired outcomes from the shoot.  The preparation stage is crucial so that you can build trust with your photographer and know that this is a collaborative effort.  Your photographer should be able to advise you on all aspects of the photo shoot – both technical and artistic; from the best clothing to wear to the best time of day and lighting for the shoot.  Preparation is also crucial to minimise the time commitments required for the shoot itself – something that is particularly important if it is a family portrait with young children. 

  • Choose appropriate clothing

Your portrait photographer should give you some tips with regards to clothing but ultimately you should choose clothing that you feel comfortable in and that represents the image that you are trying to portray.  Keep in mind the expected length of time it is going to take to complete the photo shoot so that you can stay comfortable.  Also be mindful of things that will serve as distractions such as heavily patterned / printed clothing or an excess of accessories.  For family or group portraits, solid colours tend to work best and having the subjects wearing similar colours so that attention gets focused on the faces and individuals making up the portrait. 

  • Scheduling

Your portrait photographer will be able to advise you on the best time to schedule the session based on the type of shoot.  If your portrait features young children, it is obviously important to make sure that they are well fed and hydrated and that the timing of the session fits in with their routine (as changeable as that can be)!!  Children take their cues from adults so if you feel stressed or rushed then they will pick up on this.  Do not try to squeeze your photo shoot into a day when you already have a busy schedule.  Allowing yourself time to relax into the shoot will produce far better results that if you are rushed and feel under pressure to “perform”.   

  • Use props where appropriate

Again, this is something to discuss with your photographer ahead of the shoot and will be dependent on the goals of the session but using props in a portrait photograph setting can help to make the results appear more natural as they take can take the focus away from subjects merely looking into the lens of the camera which can be make them nervous.  In an appropriate prop will make the result more original. 

Great portrait photographers have an ability to capture the true essence of their subjects in an honest and intimate way.  There best work is always produced when their subjects are confident in showing their unique self to the camera.  Central to building this confidence is for the photographer to really invest time getting to know their subject and what they want to achieve as well as providing advice on all aspects of the shoot long well in advance of the session.  Mark Crocker  is highly experienced portrait photographer based in Brisbane who prides himself on ensuring that a portrait photography session is a true collaboration between himself and his subject(s).  As well as his private work, Mark has been commissioned by several art galleries, publishers and corporate clients to produce his portraiture.  For all portrait photography enquiries, you can contact Mark here to discuss your goals in detail.