Unique Location Great, Clients want Portraits, Not Snapshots at a Unique Location

It is common today to see photographers (even some giving instruction on how to take outdoor photos) getting so wrap-up in being at a unique locations that the basic concepts of lighting and posing are thrown to the wind in some miss-guided attempt to be edgy.  It seems like these photographers are trying so hard to be different they are capturing the same crap that student photographers and soccer mom are getting.  These are portraits that are created with the hope that the client and the scene are so stunning that no one notices the photographers doesn’t know what they are doing.

Before I get 100 emails asking about the specifics of these images, all were shot with a 70-200 Canon 2.8 lens, wide open.  The camera was 5D with a ISO take ranged from 100 to 400 as light changed.  Most of the light was natural light that was modified, with the shots in the sunlight or with nothing directly overhead the main light was provided by a 6 ft. silver reflector.

This is an outdoor location that we use for some of our seniors that want something different.  Since it is in our downtown area and about 15 minutes away from the studio we set up blocks of appointments for an entire morning, afternoon or day, so the cost of the session is basically the same as in the studio.  This makes it possible to fill a block of appointments rather than charge a ridiculously high setting fee and photographing a single person.

I selected this building because the it was so diverse.  The front side of the building is brick with a covered walk-way and nicely maintained garden area.  The back of this same building is a nasty old warehouse, with loading dock and train tracks just across the street.  So in the one location, I can create a portrait for grandmother and the coolest portrait to giveaway to friends at in a very short walk around the building.

I think the single biggest mistake that photographers make in working with natural or modified light outdoors is not looking into the client’s eyes.  The catch-light in the client’s eyes tell you everything you need to know about your lighting.  If you have a hard time seeing light and it’s direction, simple look at the light reflections in the eyes.  If the catch-lights are in the 12 o’clock position the light will be very flat much light a ring-light  or butterfly lighting in the studio.  If you have multiple catch-lights in the eyes, all with the same intensity you have multiple main-light sources.  If you have no distinct catch-lights your natural light is too large and too flat!

Outdoor portraiture, even at a unique locations has to be Portraiture, not a Photoshopped Snapshot.  In today’s world and in this economy unique outdoor portraiture has to be affordable so client will take advantage of doing it.  Once a talented professional photographer has captured the images and a client is viewing, the client will buy, and if you know how to sell they will buy a lot, but if you over price outdoor photography session, you can’t sell your outdoor photography!

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~ by jeffsmithbooks on May 24, 2010.

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