Use a Pre-Shoot Portrait Checklist

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Here’s a few simple tips that will make your subjects look better during future portrait sessions which in turn translates into better portraits and happier subjects.

  • 2.10Wear solid colors. Nothing detracts from a subject more than clothes covered in busy patterns. The time to wear these kinds of outfits is for fun, not during a portrait session when emphasis should be on the their face.
  • Make sure clothes fit. While this might seem obvious, too many times I’ve seen subjects wearing ill-fitting clothes that do nothing but divert the attention of viewer.
  • The camera shows the truth. If the person has skin problems such as peeling from a sun tan or incomplete tan coverage for the clothing they’re wearing, I suggest rescheduling. Makeup and software can correct minor problems but they’re not miracle cures.
  • Hairstyles. To provide variety in the portrait, suggest they style their hair slightly differently for each clothing change.  You can always change lighting with outfit changes but nothing can change the way their hair looks.
  • Makeup. No matter what style and color of makeup a female subject think makes them look best, suggest that they change their make up style when changing hairstyles or outfits.
  • Footwear. Wearing the right shoes can make as a much a difference as the right makeup. Ask female subjects to bring along at least one pair of shoes with the highest heels they have—or can borrow—even if it doesn’t show in the portrait. High heels changes the way they stand and gives them a bit of height that adds drama of the portrait.
  • ESP. Expression Sells Portraits. The expression on a subject’s face tells the story of who they are. If they only have one look on their face, their portraits will appear monotonous.

studio.coverKeep in mind that these are just suggestions, not hard and fast rules, Every portrait subject is different so if you have a good idea and they have a better idea, just toss these out the windows and go for it. Just keep in mind that the most important aspects of portraiture is communications with the subject, making them comfortable and ESP!

Joe is the author of  “Studio Lighting Anywhere that’s available in from your friendly neighborhood camera store, better bookstores as well as Amazon.com.