Guest Post: What I Learned // My First Portrait Shoot

Thursday, June 7, 2012

My love for photography began when I was little (think five or six). For several years I had watched as my Aunt Nancy carefully changed her camera’s lens or swiftly moved around the room to get the perfect angle for photos at Christmas. Honestly, I was amazed by the fact that with the simple click of a button I could capture whatever I wanted how I wanted. Soon I had acquired my very first camera, a small, film 101 Dalmatians camera that I always carried with me. The park, dance class, in the car, the front pocket of my backpack (I was convinced that I had to get pictures from Spirit Week somehow), and even to friend’s birthday parties.

To say the least, photography became a passion of mine at a young age, but it wasn’t until recently that I shot pictures at my very first photo shoot. After an hour and a half of shooting, I was amazed at how much more I had learned about photography and how silly my worries before the shoot were. So I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to share what I learned at my first portrait shoot with you guys. Hope you enjoy!
1.       Don’t be nervous.
Honestly, I allowed my nerves to get the best of me before the shoot. What if my camera battery dies? What if my lens somehow breaks? What if I don’t have enough ideas for poses? What if I sound bossy? What should I do when I change lenses or change settings? Oh no! Did I leave my 35mm lens at home? I promise, you have nothing to worry about beforehand. Be confident in your photography abilities and don’t allow your worries to get the best of you like I did.

2.       Don’t be afraid of sounding bossy.
I was shocked when I held up my camera to take pictures and heard, “Oh yeah, don’t be afraid of sounding bossy! Trust me! I want you to tell me what to do.” There is a reason that you were hired to take their pictures and that is because they like your photos. They want a good experience and they want their pictures to look good too so don’t be afraid to direct them.

3.       Say something
When you are changing lenses or camera settings, talk to your clients. Tell them how their poses have been looking great so far, that you really like their shoes, that you are excited to be taking their pictures, and that their newborn daughter has to be the cutest little thing ever. Even show them the pictures that you have taken so far so that they can see how they are turning out and get excited to take more pictures.

4.       Location
It’s important to shoot at a location that isn’t too crowded. Taking pictures with a street light in the background or power lines in them isn’t really what we are going for. Try to find locations that don’t overpower your subject, have the right amount of light, and that aren’t “cluttered”. The focus should always be on the subject in portraits, not the background

5.       Have fun
Enjoy yourself. Have fun. Laugh. This is what you love to do, so why not show it? Lighten up a little, I promise it will all be okay.


  1. This is SO helpful! :)

  2. Ooooh, awesome post. :)

  3. wow. great tips! are you planning to post the rest of the shoot? :)

    1. Jessica: On my blog, which is linked in the post, I plan on posting the rest of the photos. My blog is relaunching on Monday, so it might be a week or two before they are up. :-)

  4. awesome tips! I recently went on a shoot with my dad (I didn't shoot, actually - I was the assistant... haha) and these are great things to keep in mind! love that picture, btw.

  5. Aww I loved this!


  6. This is a great idea! Show us more of the photo shoot.

  7. Love the photo and would love to see more!

  8. Briony: More of the photo shoot will be on my personal blog. :-)

    Brittany: Yay! So glad that you like the photo. As I said before, more of the photo shoot will be on my blog.

  9. I'm going to remember these tips. They're wonderful. Thanks so much!

  10. wow GREAT tips. I am going to remember these! thanks for sharing!

  11. that's a great location; i love the theme!


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