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How to best prep clients for portrait shoots

A great portrait is a collaboration between photographer and subject. When both are working together the result is far more than what comes from direction alone.

The tricky part is that you will be shooting “normal” people, rather than trained models. Our subjects often aren’t experienced in having their photo taken, and don’t know a lot about the process.

So a portrait shoot can be quite nerve racking for both you and the people you are photographing, the more information that you and the clients can share with each other the more comfortable and confident you and they will feel. Your brief should cover as much information as we are able get from the client over the phone but sometimes they are vague or undecided it can often take a quick face to face chat at the beginning of the shoot for the client to suddenly see the light. If this is the case – help them get there.


Whether you are shooting studio style portraits with lights and a backdrop or you are shooting situational or natural backgrounds you need to scout the space before you set up.

Studio– shooting studio portraits involves a lot of equipment, make sure you have a big enough space to set up adequate lighting if the space provided to you is tiny always ask if there isn’t a bigger space the client may not be aware of the kind of set up you require. They may have a space they hadn’t thought of beforehand.

 Situational / natural setting: Often the subjects are most relaxed and looking their best in a familiar environment. When you get on site check out the space. Find nice wall papers or perhaps a great light source that can provide a natural light on the subject. Often the boardrooms have art work on the wall or the reception has the company name and logo displayed somewhere. Set up lights if necessary.

Hair, Clothing and Accessories:

Once you have set up your shot and you are confident about the type of poses you will be asking the clients to make, it is time to start shooting. Your job as a photographer is to pay attention to detail. When a client steps in for their shot pay close attention to how they look. If their hair is messy, tell them in a polite way that they need to fix it or if it is falling in their face just ask them to adjust it a bit. The same goes for their clothing and accessories. We will advise them to wear their best outfit, it’s your job to make sure it looks good at the time. if their tie is skew or their scarf/necklace is arranged oddly ask them to adjust it. Make sure they are the best versions of themselves before you start shooting. If your client is wearing glasses check that your shots don’t have lights flaring in their lenses, this is not an acceptable shot, if this is happening adjust their posture i.e. lower chin or something or adjust your lights and do a variation of shots without the glasses.

Lastly but very importantly make sure the subjects are not slouching ask them to stand up straight it makes a huge difference and the subjects get a boost of confidence.

Happy shooting

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