Blog014: Best practices for your portrait

How to ace your portrait session

Preparing yourself for the shoot, the basics.

Have you ever wondered how some people ace their headshots for their new business card, or put on a great show for their new brands visual identity? Turns out you’re not the only person asking this question, as it’s probably right up there after “how much will this cost”.

I’ve been photographing people for over 10 years now and I found a few similarities between the successful shoots and the not so successful. Here’s what I noticed.

Plan days out, look after yourself.

Drink plenty of water, I find we tend to underhydrate most of the time, as we are working or just busy hustlin’. Water can really help your skin look nice and healthy, on the topic of skin the few days leading upto the shoot isn’t the time to try out that new skin cream or you might end up with rashes, blemishes or a roughness that might not generally be your look. Don’t get too much sun, as you’ll potentially end up a little too rosy!  Get lots of sleep, and try to focus on keeping fairly active leading upto the shoot date, get a solid amount of sleep, and don’t stay up staring at a monitor the night before.

Calm down!

It can be exciting heading into a photoshoot, lots of emotions are ripping through your mind, and you are keenly aware of xyz, so much so you can send yourself into a tailspin of nerves prior to the shoot. Relax, breath, try not to get worked up. This’ll only impede the sleep you’ll need, and often your body might mistake those nerves and might start popping up acne like it’s your 16th birthday. Meditate, go for a walk, listen to your favourite music and have a chill evening. Nerves are completely natural, when you’re on set the more in control of emotions you are the more likely you are to ace it

Shoot day!

You’ve done the above, got your hair set, make up and outfit are good to go! Make sure that you have all your accessories, don’t forget those small details make the shot. The peeking watch from the cuff, or the cheeky socks you have make the shot that more personal and relate-able. Try not to drink red wine or black coffee before the shoot, as well as avoid eating food that will make you instantly regret it… Be calm and remember the old model trick of looking at the camera like it’s one of your friends. The photographer will guide you through the shoot, some will take a very precise hands on approach and ask for a variety of expressions or poses, others will let you guide the way. Your photographers persona and approach shouldn’t affect your natural self, let it shine through and remember to move with each click, as it is a new frame and new chance. While on set avoid the meerkat approach if your photographer is shooting tethered (attached to a computer), the constant looking at the screen will break the shoots flow and can make for a long day, let the photographer invite you over to see what you are creating with them. Posing & “motivation” is upto your personal choice, personally I prefer to watch your behavior and natural inclinations, as thats what I am looking to exaggerate. I might focus on a certain thing and let you know with “I really like how you did this” to focus that behavior or pose. As far as motivation goes it’ll depend on your brand, business or persona. Try to stay close to the real you, if you’re a realtor whose laugh makes people smile and you are a hugger your headshot should scream that. If you look like you’re really worried, the lack of presence of capability will shine through and NOT give your client the perception you need. I know its trope, but just be you. Unless you’re a model, then in that case listen to the brand ideals and what they need you to be.

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