Ten Tips

Portrait Photography

Eyes of Eternity
From Up Above
Let me take your picture!!!
Flower Child
In the moment


Not just for the beautiful background possibilities, or the endless landscapes or any of the stuff that usually matters, but the perfect location can't only be judged on how pretty it is. Every time I choose a location, there are a few things that have to pass for me to use them... 1. MINIMAL TRAFFIC. Of course this ones not always going to work, BUT not having distractions for you or your subject is pretty nice!!! 2. LIGHTING!!! You can go on-location without nothing but you and the camera if you can work it right... Some of my best shoots have been without any auxiliary lighting, modifiers, or anything... Just me her and a camera. Locations with tree top cover works great for this. 3. MULTI-POSE POSSIBILITIES!!! I couldn't figure out how to word this title better but what i'm talking about is 1 location=many spots at the location to facilitate multiple places to take multiple pictures...


To have a great portrait you've gotta, gotta have good lighting. One really great way to achieve this (for me at least) is to try to shoot early morning/late in afternoon so that the sun is as close to being out of the picture (no pun intended) as possible. Remember this if nothing else, that "Direct sunlight to the face will ruin your picture" and It will every time. If its not the crazy rays on their faces its the squinty eyes. If its bright enough try to shoot in the shade or with the sun behind the subject if theirs no shade available. Lastly, use the sun to your advantage!!! You can position your subject(s) to get good edge lighting (WITHOUT A MODIFIER!!! WOW! lol).


If you shoot in "auto" all the time chances are, you can get "some" good shots. But my shooting manual you are completely taking control of the camera and your pictures. Me personally, when i'm at a new location I take time to take practice shots. The whole time i'm tweeking my shutter speed/ISO until its perfect. Then its time to shoot. I run the highest shutter speed/lowest ISO possible. Higher shutter speed=sharper, more crisp images. Lower ISO=less noise. So you find the happy medium in between the two. You can tell a great image when you get your photo into your post-processing software. I zoom in straight for the eyes and if the eyes are crisp and 100% clear, you've got yourself a great picture!!! With that being said...


I know that some people give hype to post-processing but i'll tell you from a business stand point that you will sell more, and more photo jobs if your work looks great. By great of course I mean the best, best you can possibly offer them. I personally own Photoshop CS4, Illustrator CS4, and Lightroom. For the majority of my photos I just use Lightroom. Lightroom is such an easy product to use, interface is crazy simple, and plus the results are super clean. My best photos have been produced with Lightroom. But for whatever you use, make sure to remove blemishes, remove redness (cheeks, whatever), redeye shouldn't be an issue but if it is then its a given (lol). Don't overwork the images because you dont want their faces to look like molded plastic, but create an image that the customer will be pleased with because lets face it, No paying customer wants great pictures of them and their big huge chin zit...


5 years ago well positioned poses and greatly sculpted lines were profound to the photo world. But from what ive seen over the past few years is a flood of funky, candid moment fuled snapshots. I personally love them!!! This allows you to be more relaxed (especially with the kids) and more fun with the shoot most of all. When I shoot families, I like to pose them "some-what" just to give them an outline to work with. After some good conversation, I start snapping and I keep snapping till I leave... This gives them the shots they want and makes the shoot fun. Also I kinda let them be creative also with setup and poses. You still want to pose but letting people be creative with you helps the shots and them feel as though they have contributed to their investment.


This one actually matters least to me... Honestly I could really care less what people wear to shoots. The only pet-peeve I have is with multiple-person shooting.. Generally what I tell them is to dress similar but not the same... Like If they want to wear pastel tops with jeans, just make everyone wear pastel tops with jeans.. They don't have to be the same color, but just similar in design and similar in color. Jeans turn out really cool with color-higher contrast shots (btw lol)


The key to a great shoot most of all is a great vibe. Make good conversation with your clients right off the bat, and your sure to set a good tone for the rest of the shoot. Also if the customer feels comfortable with you they will trust you more, and trust is very important when dealing with someones life memories.


Don't be too particular when customers ask about their hair and makeup. I generally tell them to fix their hair the way that they would like. With makeup, honestly I can tell you that more makeup doesn't hurt anything when your on a camera. I photographed a girl for her senior portraits and she had (literally) a TON of makeup. It was the first time I had encountered this and I was worried that it would look like a... well you know what i mean lol. But when I got in post-processing, you couldn't really tell she had a lot of makeup on, and it made editing a lot easier. Makeup looks totally different on camera than in person. I guarantee it!!!!


Too many times I've seen a really good picture with a parked car, loose branch, or people in the background of the shot. The worst thing for your pictures are things in the background taking attention away from the one who's paying you . (lol Sort-to-say) So in essence just pay attention, and be mindful on not only on what your shooting, but most importantly whats behind or around it.

10. SMILE?

Smiles are not overrated as a great smile can really make a great picture. But sometimes serious expressions or even sensual expressions can make so much more come out of the picture. This one I cannot tell you how to do. You'll have to be the judge so just study the shot and most of the time you'll know right off the bat what expression to use. (lol) Actually your subject will probably know before you...

I hope this has been helpful beneficial to anyone who might stumble across it. Above all, keep your subject in mind, and your shots beautiful and your sure to have perfect location portraits everytime!!!

-Ricky Robertson

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9 responses

  • Karen Menyhart

    Karen Menyhart gave props (19 Jun 2010):

    thanks for sharing, I got some really good pointers here!

  • Rajeev Jadhav

    Rajeev Jadhav gave props (19 Jun 2010):

    Very informative article Congrats !!!!!!!!

  • Frank Summers

    Frank Summers   gave props (19 Jun 2010):

    Great Info!

  • May Lattanzio

    May Lattanzio gave props (20 Jun 2010):

    I'm shooting a small outdoor wedding next week - my first - for a friend's son and new wife and their combined family. I'm nervous. This was helpful.

  • ang litratista

    ang litratista gave props (22 Jun 2010):

    thanks for sharing this.

  • Jason Pierce

    Jason Pierce gave props (22 Jun 2010):

    Great tips!

  • Rich Silva

    Rich Silva said (26 Jun 2010):

    Great nuggets of information. Thanks for the good read...now lets shoot!

  • TTullos

    TTullos said (7 Aug 2010):

    good information, too many !!! and lack of proper punctuation.

  • Woj

    Woj (Deleted) gave props (30 Aug 2010):

    great info, thanks!

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