WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS: take a few minutes to read this and you’ll not only save actual hours on the day of your portrait shoot, you’ll look and feel much more confident and comfortable.
A portrait shoot is a lot different from grabbing a selfie with your BFF at the local café.
The aim of a photographic portrait is to create a wonderful image that represents you on your best day. For most of us, that’s going to take a little preparation to make the most of the opportunity.
A 1-meter museum quality print on fine art canvas or paper (not to mention the framing) is not inexpensive. It’s going to outlast you (if you keep your cat from sharpening it’s claws on your print).
This is not the time for an experimental haircut and an “I’m with stupid” T-shirt. Unless that’s your thing…
Hair and Makeup
If you’ve been thinking about getting any sort of beauty treatment – from a manicure to a dental cleaning – now is a great time! Just like a wedding, it’s also money and time well spent to have your hair done professionally. At least a trim.
When you feel great, you look great. It really shows in your eyes. Men and women.
Some people elect to bring a friend to help with makeup and wardrobe. We recommend a trusted friend, as family often have other agendas about how you look and are more concerned with how you reflect on them. I know that sounds harsh, but you’d be surprised how many mums ‘manage’ their kids into odd wardrobe choices. The same goes for girlfriends of men getting a portrait made.
Wives – get your bestie, your husband is probably going to get bored and bring down the tone of the shoot. Husbands, unless it’s a surprise, your wife is going to think more about it than you and will ultimately decide if your photograph hangs in the lounge or the guest bathroom. Involve her at every step. Bring her to the shoot and trust her. She’s not your mum.
You may also discuss with us hiring a makeup artist (search for MUA on any modelling Facebook page or website.) A makeup artist is not necessarily great at hair. You need to have that discussion with them BEFORE you book them. Be sure to get references and pay them. Volunteers are ridiculously frequent no-shows. A small deposit is a good idea.
Again, if you get a great haircut shortly before your portrait session, it’s going to be easier on the day. Alternatively, you can get your hair done the morning of a shoot (just like a bride!).
If you’re doing your own hair and makeup, keep it simple. Ferrari red lipstick and ‘smokey eyes’ are great in a dimly lit club, but usually read over the top in a photograph. The same with your hair – the attention should be on your face, not your hair. Again, unless that’s your thing.
Bring your hair and makeup supplies so you can do touch ups, especially after wardrobe changes. I have a short haircut and a hat – don’t rely on the photographer having anything.
Wardobe (aka Clothes)
Wardrobe needs to be simple. Simple colours. Fashion is all about clothes, portraiture is not. You don’t want your outfit to be the focus of the photo. Avoid busy prints, multiple colours or stripes that don’t compliment your figure. No prints, florals or patterns if you want the attention to be on you. Earth tones tend to photograph well – bright colours make a statement.
Think about where we will be creating your portrait. Do you have appropriate clothes? A pantsuit on the beach is going to look out of place, but so is a bathing suit in a hotel lobby. Will the colours you’ve selected compliment or clash with the furniture you thought you might drape yourself over?
Ladies, if you’re planning on a top without shoulders or a plunging neckline, have the appropriate bra – one that’s not going to be perilously ill-suited or constantly creep into the shot.
If you just want a hint of bare shoulder in a beauty headshot, a tube top is a simple, modest, and very affordable solution.
Sometimes footwear is going to make it into the shot – perhaps you’re sitting down with crossed legs. Jandles and a suit or dress might not be the look you’re going for (sometimes it is). Be practical with your footwear – if we’re shooting outside, have some sensible shoes for navigating lawns, rocks, a short walk. You can change into fancier shoes when we’ve set up.
The style of your outfits (we always encourage you to bring several variations or combinations) will say a lot about you. Plan accordingly.
Some outfits feel comfortable but sit or hang poorly on your body, especially if you are sitting. Try them out in a mirror and move about to get a feel for how the clothes move with you.
Once you’ve assembled your potential wardrobe, take selfies and send them to us (email@example.com) a week before the shoot. Just going through the motions of shooting a selfie will help you quickly organise and edit your choices and you’ll find yourself taking less clothes to the shoot.
You’ll also know if those clothes still fit correctly – a frequent problem with men’s suits or ‘good clothes.’
During the shoot is not the time to try out new clothes or combinations. Portrait shoots generally have time limits – the more time you spend in front of the camera, the better your photos will be. The more confident you feel in your clothes, the more confident you will be on camera.
Do show up ready to have a good time, but don’t use drugs or alcohol before a shoot. It not only impairs your ability to respond during a portrait shoot, your eyes and expressions will lack clarity and focus in a way that will NOT create a great picture. Have something to eat and keep hydrated, you’re going to want to stay frosty.
Please be clear about how much time you’ve booked and be on time if you’re meeting on location or at our studio space.
Got some favourite tunes that create the mood for you? You’re welcome to bring your phone loaded with playlists or mp3s – ask us to bring the big Bluetooth speaker to the shoot. We find ‘up’ energy really helps, but thrash metal tends to burn everyone out faster.
Locations (where we make your portrait happen)
One of my specialties is ‘environmental portraiture.’ It’s not about your carbon emissions, it’s about the background or location being a part of your story. The other option is creating a ‘studio’ with a selection of backdrops.
Your shoot can be split into 2 locations, but any travel time is counted against your booking.
Your place: your clothes are all there, your accessories are all there, and you should be comfortable there. However, your family may also be there, and that’s probably not a distraction that’s going to enhance your shoot.
Additionally, your house may or may not have enough space, even if you move all the furniture.
Your comfort is super important to a great portrait, and I’ll make it work.
On location (aka the great outdoors or a big empty room): I will happily take you on a photo walk around downtown Dunedin to make use of several great backgrounds and locations that make the city so cool. This is subject to the weather, and it limits our ability to create the light – the weather calls the shots.
We have several locations we think are great for photography outdoors and indoors. It depends on the vibe you want.
Locations need permission from the actual owner. We can’t setup without it. Some public spaces also limit professional photography and need a permit. This particularly applies if we are using lights and tripods (and those tools really make your photos look awesome, so we're a fan).
You also want to consider where you will change wardrobe, or if the location is prone to be windy or crowded. Indoors or out, an audience is not helpful to most people. It’s also a safety risk with our equipment (lights, stands etc.). Our lights love nothing better than to suicide in the gentlest of breezes. They are unerring in the ability to hit someone in the head in the final ‘banzai’ moment.
Have a couple of backup locations planned in case the weather or unforeseen circumstances move us on. Be sure we discuss all of this while we are planning your shoot.
Grab a selfie the next time you’re at a spot you’d love to be photographed in and we’ll do our best to help you make it work.