Outdoor Portraiture, “Art” is in the eye of buyer!

Whether you consider yourself a retail business or professional service provider, a professional photographer or artist, “Art” is always determined by the buyer.  Some lofty photographers might argue this point, but if you create something the client doesn’t want, they don’t buy and your so-called art is worthless (so it really isn’t art after-all).  Clients pay us for our ability to use our talent to create what they want, not to produce a product we like and try to convince them it is art.

When it comes to a client’s expectations, there is no more diverse area of photography than portraits outdoors or on location.  While some photographers simply meet every outdoor client at the local park, when you take the time to talk with clients you find their idea of outdoor portraiture vary considerably.  While many clients do like the green, natural look of a park scene, many clients want something different.  This something different is what makes the difference between past clients and raving fans.  When you take the time to find out what the clients, then use your talents to create it,  you create walking talking poster-people for your business.

Now before you think I have changed my position about profitability, I have not.  All the portraits in this post were taken at a local park, which is five minutes away from the studio (scheduled in blocks of appointments so the outdoor session is the same price as the studio session) or within a few feet from the front or back of my studio.  The key here isn’t building a portrait park or driving to some distant local, but to use your abilities to take what you have and make it something your client wants to buy!  As always, profit is King, creativity is Queen and bad ideas you hear at programs that won’t profit your business are like a Goofy Court-Jester that lures you into some really stupid things to do with your time!

No matter how much we prepared our clients with videos, confirmation letters and thoroughly explaining their different session options, we would, on occasion end up with a senior girl that wanted some outdoor portraits scheduled for a studio only session.  As I looked at my options around the studio, I had an old alley-way behind the studio and a car lot for higher-end pre-owned cars next door.  Not exactly perfect for a more upscale crowd, but I was determined to convert my outdoor ugliness into something my clients would love!  I knew to make these areas look like ‘something’ I was going to have to control my depth of field, so everything was shot wide open with a 70-200mm 2.8 Canon lens working at 200mm.  Main light was provided by a silver reflector, feathering off the main beam of light to avoid squinting for quick set up, since we wouldn’t be charging an additional fee for these options.

The result was quite nice and more importantly my clients  loved them.  We have photographed many seniors in our old ugly alley-way where homeless-Bob sleeps (but not during business hours) and by the used car lot.  We have  actually sold quite a few wall portraits from these areas, which amazed even me.  The idea here isn’t to look for an alley-way or used-car lot to take images like these, it is to look at what you have around your studio and use your talents to transform those places into viable options to offer to your client.  By learning to adapt what you have, you offer your clients unique portraits that can’t be duplicated by other studios, (well they could but who is going to pay an extra fee to go to a used car lot?)


~ by jeffsmithbooks on April 20, 2010.

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