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How to Make The Most of A Portrait Session

If you’re a portrait photographer of any kind, then you’re in the right place because today we’re talking all about how to make the most out of a portrait session by diversifying your portfolio and prompting your clients well!

First off, what classifies a portrait session?

Essentially, it’s any session where you're photographing another person. This could be maternity sessions, kid sessions, branding sessions, senior sessions, glam shots, or headshots, the list goes on and on!

Although there isn’t really a “portrait session season” summer and fall make for amazing photoshoots because depending on where you’re at you can typically shoot outside and have beautiful backdrops of vibrant colors.

With that being said, I wanted to share some of my best tips for getting the most out of a portrait session as a photographer.

Before we dive in, I wanted to share a resource in my shop you’ll love! The Posing Deck: Portrait Edition is a deck full of posing prompt cards you can download and use at portrait sessions to help your clients feel comfortable in front of the camera. Grab the posing deck for just $19 HERE!

Without further ado, let’s dive into my best portrait session tips:

Define the goal of the session

I always like to get a pulse on what my client is hoping to have at the end of our time together. This helps me plan ahead for location, posing and general vibe of the session. It also helps my client set expectations and dream about what style of photos they’re hoping for.

Pose progressively

In The Posing Deck: Portrait Edition I have a variety of poses from sitting, to standing, to running and dancing. I like to start with standing poses and progressively work my way to sitting, or lying down. This helps the session have a flow rather than it feeling like a workout for the client.

Prompt with subtle changes in stance

I love portrait sessions because even the slightest change in pose can create an entirely new photo. Remember to slow down, and prompt your subject with subtle changes rather than switching it up too quickly. For example, you can have them put one hand in their front pocket, then both hands in their back pocket, then one hand in their front pocket and one hand in their hair, etc. 

Use clothing as a prop

Don’t be afraid to use clothing as a prop for the session. It’s a great way to mix up posing and draw attention to the style of your client. Having them hold their skirt, pop their collar, twirl around so their dress flows or hold their hat are all examples of how you can draw attention to clothing in photos and mix things up in a new way.

Diversify your backgrounds within a location

It’s always great to choose a location that has a variety of backgrounds. This gives you the opportunity to create a gallery that’s full of different options and looks.

Read your client's energy

Lastly, and most importantly, read your client. Individual portrait sessions can be intimidating for the person in front of the camera. It's important to pay attention to how they're feeling and prompt them accordingly. If they are super confident in front of the camera, chances are you can give more open-ended prompts and let them move in a way that feels comfortable to them. On the other hand, you might have someone who needs lots of direction from you, so guide them through the motions, and even demonstrate for them what you're asking. Give them prompts that fit their personality and the style of the photos they're hoping for.

I hope these tips are helpful as you gear up to shoot portrait sessions. Remember you can grab The Posing Deck: Portrait Edition, Couples Edition Family Edition, and Wedding Edition for more posing inspiration!

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