Spring Is Here, Outdoor Portrait Season, Are You Ready?

Somewhere along the line, outdoor portraiture became “Outdoor Snapshots”.  In my books, I always said that while I can train a photographer with experience to do a good job in the studio in a just a few years, the task of teaching someone to photograph outdoors, with all the variables of an average outdoor scene would take me years to teach, so I always do all the outdoor sessions myself.  Imagine how surprised I was to find out I was wrong all these years, all I needed was an on-camera flash and a pretty girl!

Come on guys, if you can’t see the natural light, if you can’t manipulate it to produce a portrait, you shouldn’t be working for clients.  Yes wedding photographers must use on camera flash to keep pace with the flow of the wedding day, but for portraiture, you should never use an on camera flash.  Lighting in portraiture is critical!  While the average bride will be taken in a full length or 3/4 pose  and be no larger than an 8×10 size in her album on the average photo,  many portraits have a much larger facial size and you sell much larger sizes for the wall.  Outdoor Snap Shots will never do!  Now I know why so many of these new camera owners offer their clients a CD of all the images, they are hoping they will never see them larger than a computer screen so the client never realizes they could have taken the same snapshots with their own cameras!

While many new photographers take learning photography very seriously and don’t put the cart before the horse (charge a person for photography skills that they don’t have, because they don’t know any more about photography than the client who hired them), some new camera owners would sell blank CD’s if they thought the client would never check them and they probably should, that way the client could save something of value on the CD instead of snapshots that were supposed to be portraits.  These same new snapshot takers get frustrated by the current conditions in the profession of photography, complaining that there is no way to make a decent living  for the new photographers!  Really?  That’s sad that people who don’t want to learn a craft good enough to produce a decent product and then use pricing as the only lure to make a quick buck are complaining about their being no future, because of people just like them!

The past is the only thing you can not change….meaning that you may have been a snapshot takers up to this minute, but you can learn this craft.  You can create the type of images that take this profession to new places, instead of dragging it down.  Knowledge is the key.  There is always a place in this profession for a talented business person.  So learn!

If your mother would have giving you a baby walker (like senior citizens use) or a pair of crutches when you were first learning to walk, you would still be using them today.  We never rise above any shortcut or “cheat” we allow ourselves to use.  Take the on camera flash off, save it for wedding days.  Go through the park and learn to see the light direction.  Look into your clients eyes’…see how the catch-lights can indicate good lighting from bad.  Use a reflector (silver/white) to manipulate the natural light to create the light you want for the look of the portrait you have envisioned.

If you think natural lighting is too difficult to learn and giving up taking snapshots with an on camera flash is too scary do this….take a model, not a client, professionals don’t practice a paying clients, we kind of know what we are doing BEFORE WE TAKE MONEY FOR OUR SERVICES!  Find a nice location that has sunlight coming toward the camera/behind the subject.  This brings out the green in the leave of the trees and add separation to the subject.  Now take your reflector, have an assistant stand in the same position you would place your main light in the studio, with the reflector at the same height as your main light would be.  Have him/her find some sun and direct the beam of sunlight over the models head.  Then have them lower it slowly until it produces two distinct catch-lights you can see from the camera position.  At this point, you have achieved a beautiful, natural main light source with a quality that will produce a beautiful portrait in any size.  It may not be as easy as the brainless snapshots take by an on-camera flash, but it is a professional quality lighting that you have complete control over.


~ by jeffsmithbooks on April 29, 2011.

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