- Shoot LOTS of photos at every session. The more people in the photo, the more shots you will need of each setting.
- Never show your client all the photos you shoot. Edit first and get rid of anything but the best. A word of warning here though. You have a series of photos of a family, let’s say. Some of the family members look good in some of the photos but one or two don’t. Keep all these photos, as you may want to take a head or two out of one photo and superimpose them on another in which everyone else looks good. This is not hard to do when you have some skill with Photoshop. But still don’t show these “outtakes” to the client. Only show them the best, final, edited photos.
- Watch your background! The subject may look great but the chicken wire fence or the garbage can or unpleasantly busy background can ruin the shot. Photoshop can do a lot but you’re best bet is to get the photos perfect to begin with and use a minimum of Photoshop retouching as a last resort.
- Watch your lighting. Open shade is usually the best for outdoor portraiture although backlighting can also be very beautiful. Use fill flash if there is strong light and heavy contrast. A mix of sun and shade can be deadly. Try to hedge your bets by using different lighting for the same person or group. That way you will have a choice of the best in the end.
- If your location portrait photography takes you indoors to your clients’ home or office, you will need to carry lights and know your lighting techniques. We have covered that elsewhere and will do further articles on the subject.
- Start by doing some free location portrait photography for family and friends. If you’re good, your location portrait photography business will soon take off.
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People will pay for good photos of themselves, family, friends, associates. There is a market for location portrait photography but it has to be good. These days everyone has a digital camera and photos abound. Yours will have to be above average. You don’t need a studio for this activity. The world, parks, gardens, clients’ homes or offices, construction sites, ship decks and just about any other setting you can think of will make the perfect background for location portrait photography.
As with any portraiture, the best location portrait will bring out in a single image the personality of the person or people being photographed, will tell the viewer what is important about them, perhaps what they love to do in life or what they are like.
Let’s assume you are good at taking photos of people and, most importantly, the people you photograph love the photos you have taken of them. So how do you make money out of location portrait photography? Where do you start?
Over and over one hears or reads a story that goes something like this: “I took some photos of my niece and nephew and their mother just loved them. She showed them to her friends and I got a call from one of them, a perfect stranger to me, who asked me how much I would charge to take photos of her family.”
If this happens to you, you have a problem immediately, but a good one. How much do you charge for your location portrait photography? You need to build up a portfolio and improve your techniques so as to achieve professional results every time. Why not be paid at least something to do so? So charge what the market will bear, what you are willing to do the work for and what you think it’s worth. How about $100-250 for a session to begin with? As you get better at your location portrait photography you can also raise your prices and also find ways to make more money from your skills and talent.
If you are good, the word will get out. Friends will tell their friends. Someone’s husband will mention your photography to the marketing department at their company and before you know it you will be doing corporate photographs for website or brochure. Meet each challenge and your location portrait photography business will start to flourish. Your presentation will improve. From digital images you will move on to selling large prints, framed, or making albums and leather-covered books with your beautiful portraits in them.
Here are some tips:
David © Phillips is a professional writer and photographer living in Seattle, WA. You can find out more about him and his work at www.dcpcom.com.
Photograph(s) in this article are © David C Phillips, All Rights Reserved.