Portrait Session FAQ

What is a custom portrait session?

A custom photo session is one that is tailored to your needs. It is quite unlike getting photographed at a department store photo studio. A custom photo session requires a higher level of commitment from you as well as the photographer in order to be successful. As a result, it may not be optimum for everyone or for every occasion. The first step is to determine if this is something you really want to do. A custom photo session typically has 3 steps – a consultation, the shoot and the review.

What happens at the consultation?

The consultation is the planning session for the shoot. Time and place is discussed, and the participants get to know the photographers. It is important to make it so that all the participants and the photographer get together. This is also the time to discuss clothing and whether you should need professional make-up and hair styling. The photographer gathers all the inputs for preparing for the session.

How important is the choice of clothing for a successful photo session?

In short, very important. People like to dress in their favorite clothes, which may or may not be suitable for  a photo session. You have to take clothing seriously, and if your photographer hasn’t, you can be sure you have hired the wrong person. I cover the topic of clothing during the consultation. Every session is different, however following rules generally apply. Short sleeves are a drawback in portraiture since bare arms draw attention away from the face. A wide neckline tends to add weight to the subject in a portrait. A high neckline, a turtleneck, or a V-neck is much more flattering to everyone. Bright colors and loud patterns can be terrible distractions – these draw attention away from the face. In planning for a family photo session, the group should pick a color scheme and stick to it. Select either warm or cool colors or dark or light tones. Mixing and matching is disastrous for a group portrait. Make sure the lighter clothing is the top and darker clothing is the bottom.

What about hairstyle and makeup?

That depends on the occasion. If it is a photo session in your backyard or a similar location, you may not want to have it at all. If it is more controlled, like a formal portraiture, professional hairstyle and makeup are very important. The make-up artist should know what photographs well. Unless you want a high fashion look,  make-up should not call attention to itself. For women, foundation should be carefully blended over the jawline and onto the neck, avoiding any abrupt color change between the face and the neck. Mascara is almost always essential and a glossy lipstick is important to make the lips look the best. If eye shadow is worn, it should be used to draw attention to the eyes, and not to the color of the eyelids. When it comes to hair, a classical look is safer than what is in vogue, if you are concerned about your portrait getting out of style in a short while. Take care to keep stray hair out and avoid pieces of hair that hang forward on the face and create shadows, as well as hairstyles that cover the eyes.

What happens at the review stage?

This is when you get to see the photos for the first time. A pared down selection, typically 20% of the fames is reviewed. It is the job of the photographer to get rid of the unwanted and faulty frames, and you have to trust the photographer on that. At the end of the review, you would expect to finalize the print or digital order. The photographer suggests if any picture would benefit from special digital processing like black and white conversion or any other special effect. If you are considering wall display, the photographer should be able to make recommendations on various choices available.

What is a model release?

A model release is a written consent for rights to use your photograph. Unfortunately, it has to read like a legal document, but all it does is give authorization to use your photograph. It is very likely you would hire your photographer after looking at the portfolio. So someone had to give that consent, that helped you in your decision to hire me. From time to time, I have to update my portfolio as a usual means of seeking new clients. Without consent, I cannot use your photograph in my portfolio for promoting my business.  I seek model release only for the purpose of promoting my business and never to sell it to a stock photo agency or for any other commercial purpose. No picture is published with your full name or location. I request you to bring the signed model release form to the consultation session. And of course, your consent is highly appreciated.

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