Portrait Photo Styling Tips
Something that I firmly believe that nobody ever regrets is having more high-quality photos of the people in your life. This summer, we’re looking at getting some couples photos done (we’ve never done a real shoot together!). If you’re a photographer and starting to grow your business, or even shooting for fun, one of the fastest ways to build a respectable portfolio is by partnering on styled shots. Few people are photographed frequently, so they will turn to you for advice. “What should I wear? What should I bring?” They expect you to be the expert. Here are some dos and don’ts to guide you.
DO ask your clients about their style.
You’re capturing people, and they need to be comfortable. What outfits do they feel the best in? They should probably wear those. The best pictures are ones where the people look like themselves. If they aren’t going to be comfortable in a bohemian-inspired photoshoot, or a stuffy formal shoot, don’t put them in that position. When you’re setting a date for your shoot, have your clients fill out a questionnaire about their style and what they want to get out of the day.
DON’T match, coordinate instead.
Don’t have the family wear the same thing. Matching is out, and coordinating is in. Work with them to choose a unified color scheme of three or four colors that they like. Many families will be buying outfits specifically for family photos, so you can encourage them to choose a palette of coordinating colors that can be mixed and matched. Don’t be afraid of varying textures and patterns as well.
DO think about the background you’ll be shooting your clients against.
When scouting locations for your shoot, or choosing backgrounds for within a studio, think about colors and textures that will complement it. Have you found a brilliant orange splash of color along a wall? Have clients wear blue to pop against it. Beige background? Try an interesting pattern or texture. If the background is going to be busy or distracting, such as when you’re shooting outside, instruct your client to choose solid colors in softer textures.
DON’T forget about details.
Some of the best shots focus on details – a beloved piece of jewelry, a smile, a unique feature that makes your client especially them. These are the details that they are going to want to see. Pay attention to the minute details. What is your client’s favorite thing about themselves? Is there anything that they’re self-conscious about? Again, use a questionnaire to guide you as you look for details to focus on.
DO post photos on your website or social media showing examples of good styling.
After you’ve taken some killer photos of happy couples or families, post those on your website or social media so that you can provide examples to point to when they ask. You can also set up a Pinterest board of outfit ideas that you can share with clients.
DON’T feel like the rules are set in stone.
As a photographer, you’re going to need to develop your own style, and your own preferences. This is something that you’ll get more comfortable with the more that you practice. Even as you’re just starting out, don’t be afraid to take risks or to break the rules. Your name gets attached to these photos, so you want them to be something that you can be proud of.
Happy photo season! Make sure your clients feel at ease about how great they look!
What is your best piece of photo styling advice?