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The #1 Simple Rule to Portrait Photography

The #1 Simple Rule to Portrait Photography

There is common misconception that if you have a nice camera, you're going to have nice pictures.  In my experience, not so much.  


Before I started working at a portrait studio, my experience with photography was basically "Let's see how this turns out!"  I was super excited to get to learn how to take pictures.  Imagine my surprise when, on my FIRST day, I was shown the camera and told "Have fun!"

This was not the point and shoot 35 mm that I was used to.  This was a LEGIT camera; the kind where it's upside down in the viewfinder, and you have to manually focus and use a tripod.  It was like Mark Ruffalo in 13 Going On 30.  


Isn't he dreamy?! I mean, isn't that scary looking? 

I finally figured it out and and my pictures were decent, but not great. REALLY nice camera, just okay pictures.  I'm not being modest.  They were ehhh at best.  It wasn't until ONE YEAR LATER, when I moved to another studio, when I finally got proper training.  I would go home with a headache everyday because I learned so many new things.  

What I discovered over the years is that EVERYONE has an opinion on photography.  Which is right- it's an art and art is subjective...

So I asked a few of my photographer friends what THEIR simple rule was and here are a few: 

- Attention to detail is important. If you ignore it or are just too lazy to fix a detail, you shouldn't take the picture at all.

- Photography isn't just straight-on, bowling alley style posing.  Angles. Need to create angles. 


- A good photographer can take a great picture with even a simple camera.  Knowledge over expensive equipment.  Or as she put it- skills over bill$$$

- Learn how to talk to people.  Make people feel comfortable and they will smile much more naturally.  - This is something that was burned into my brain as well.  Your pictures will be all the better for it! 

- The most important elements in a picture are the lighting and the emotion.  

- Be your own best judge of character. If you can't be hard on yourself, you won't take criticism from regular clients.

- Story, story, story. TELL A STORY. 


Proper lighting will forgive a multitude of sins.  And I'm not just talking imperfections.  I mean, cropping, composition, angles.  It makes the picture look clean and naturally makes your eye linger.  Not enough light leaves you with messy shadows and too much lighting distracts with the lack of depth in the picture.  

Emotion is also really the selling point of why you love a picture.  I'm not talking smiles.  Smiling is NOT an emotion.  

No, I'm talking all the emotions.  Happy, joyful, shy, sad, love, anger, mischievous, defiant- just to name a few.  The point of a photograph is to capture who that person is in that moment.  And let's face it- there are very few people who smile ALL the time. 


Believe me, when the kids are older, you'll want to remember all the faces they made.  Don't work so hard to get a "real" smile* that you miss out on capturing who they really are!  

So those are some simple RULES for photography.  What's something that you use in your photography or wished you'd learned sooner?  

1 Simple Trick Guaranteed to Make Your Photography Stand Out

1 Simple Trick Guaranteed to Make Your Photography Stand Out

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