What else do I need?
Get serious about printing and presentation
Social portraiture as a business is as much about how you deliver the results, as it is shooting. And whether it’s portrait sessions or weddings, many pros offer scalable packages – starting with a basic rate for the shoot and a few prints, followed by the chance to buy photos in a range of formats. Albums and photo books are especially popular, and depending on your provider, you can
let the client create the book from the full range of photos – or work with them to choose images and design the layout. Large framed prints and canvases are a very popular route for clients, and the only restriction in size is the resolution of images you upload to the available gallery – so make sure you include the largest versions possible. Take a look at companies like WhiteWall.
Finding the perfect light
No matter what the style, lighting can be one of the most important aspects of portraiture. It’s the intention that really sets the tone and mood of a portrait. To light with freedom, you’ll want versatile illumination, as well as a selection of lighting modifiers that let you shape output just as you want. Matching your kit to the task at hand is important. For mobility, speedlights like Hähnel’s Modus 600RT II are still the go-to option for many pros, on or off camera, and help in really simple and effective ways – perhaps as a touch of fill light when shooting against the sun. But if you have a little more time, or want to create more complex lighting arrangements, consider lightweight location flashes like the Profoto B10.
If working on location, say for environmental portraits or informal pictures in a client’s home, it’s sometimes better to use LED lights, placing them in the scene in a way that adds to the natural light already there. What’s more, subjects become used to them, more so than flash, which can help when seeking more candid or lifestyle looks. In the studio, where portability and power are lesser issues, you want lights that offer excellent colour consistency, so that sets of images all have the same healthy-looking skin tones. If starting out, it can be a good idea to invest in a kit, like the Elinchrom ELC 125/500 To Go Set, which comes with all you need to create the best studio portraits.
An online presence
Most photographers already have a personal website, but if you’re going into business, it’s important to make a bespoke business page to give a clear message about the type of photography and services you offer. The same goes for Facebook or Instagram. Even if you have accounts already, make a new presence that’s dedicated to the services you sell, places to meet and chat to prospective clients, and sharing your love for what you do. Keep your online offering clear and direct – include your most recent work, information about yourself, and testimonials from happy customers,
not to mention plain, simple pricing.
Your website doesn’t need to offer e-commerce support – like the chance to buy prints and books straight from your online platform – but it certainly helps, and will keep you free to work, attracting new customers while fulfilment is handled by a third party. Many websites offer these built- in services. One example is Amazing Internet’s Portfolio Series, which PN readers voted their top choice for the last three years running – or Pixpa, which has a great range of packages and features to suit working photographers.
Accessories tomake your portraits sing
Away from core photographic kit like cameras, lenses and lights, it’s often the less glamorous accessories that deliver best results. For instance, when working on location, picking the right bag or carry case is important. So, for a reportage-style wedding shoot, you may only want a reporter-style shoulder bag like a Think Tank Retrospective 10 V2.0 – but for more elaborate set-ups, a roller case such as a Think Tank Airport Advantage XT can get your gear to where it needs to be without strain. Consider camera straps, too. If you are working all day, comfort is important, and upgrading from the supplied strap will pay off for the neck and shoulders. A good option is 5-in-1 reflectors – offering four different surfaces to
create fill light, plus a diffuser panel to soften direct sun – which can really take portrait lighting to the next level. Try to have one to hand, like Pixapro’s 100x150cm 5-in-1 Reflector with Grip Handles. And for studio sessions, think about both simple and textured backgrounds, like Lastolite’s collapsible models – as simple changes in colour and tone can be instrumental to success. The Gossen Digipro F2 light meter is extremely handy when working with flash, and takes so much of the guesswork out of exposure. But whether on location or in the studio, non-photographic kit makes all the difference, too. Keep clients comfortable with refreshments, or even play music to liven up the experience. These small touches matter.
16 Photography News | Issue 90
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