From Fashion Photography to Professional Portraits

My friend Leah was always interested in photography, and she has a knack for bringing out the best in clothing through her photos. She is a part-time photographer for a local clothing boutique, though recently she got into doing professional portraits after another friend asked her to do headshots for her LinkedIn profile.

Recently we had lunch and I asked her how it feels to go from fashion photography to corporate portraits, which is my inspiration for the post today. Listed below are some tips she shared for photographing professional portraits.

1. Make sure the client dresses for success.

Clothing is important because it affects the confidence of the client as well as the eventual outcome in the photograph. Women should wear a minimal amount of jewelry (if at all) because shiny jewelry can reflect in the camera. Dark, classic fashions are best for men and women. Bold colors and patterns should be avoided as they distract from the focal point of the portrait: the client’s face and personality.

2. Photoshop is your friend.

People go to photographers with skill in handling a camera and Photoshop for a reason: to make themselves look their best. Give people what they want and remove blemishes, wrinkles, and shiny bits from the image. Help your clients help themselves by dissuading them from using too much make-up.

3. Have an appropriate background.

A solid, neutral background is absolutely necessary for corporate portraits. You can’t go wrong with gray or black, though a neutral shade of brown or blue can be acceptable. Depending on the situation the client may want a background with more texture, such as a brick or wooden wall. Discuss the effect that your client is looking for and be prepared to do off-site photography with the background of their choosing. Be sure you do sample shots before the actual photo shot so you can adjust for location-specific challenges.

4. Lighting is everything.

For a professional portrait, the lighting is key. You want your subject to be flattered by the light, not be in the shadows or washed out by too-bright light. Photographs can be taken indoors or outdoors, so you will have to adjust your lighting accordingly. If you are serious about taking corporate portraits, then you will have to invest in some lighting. Softboxes and umbrellas work great as lighting modifiers; which one you choose depends on your preference and the effect you hope to achieve.

Leah went from bringing out the best in clothes to bringing out the best in people. She still works with people as models, though her models are now professional in other ways. She enjoys working with corporate photography because she can make her clients feel relaxed and natural, which is key to creating strong professional portraits.

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