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The Basic Elements Of A Successful Photoshoot Go Far Beyond A “Great Camera”

WARNING: These images are straight out of the camera with no editing. "YIKES" - No Photoshop!

The first image below is a shot of the subject being silly, yet having fun, during the photoshoot. I grabbed the shot as we were transitioning into a series of shots which can be seen by the 3 black and whites to follow. There is far more to a successful image than having a "Great Camera."

Marcie Being Silly During Photoshoot

Oh My! - The image above has not been edited. Should I have posted it?

photocrati gallery

I posted one of the images from this series on my LinkedIn updates and someone actually commented "Nice picture, great camera!" which was the full comment. The comment may have been meant to make me feel good about my image, but the "Great Camera" part actually kind of insulted me.

A successful photoshoot goes far beyond having a "Great Camera." What really defines a great camera anyway? Consumers likely think that buying a $750 to $1,500 camera kit means they will have a great camera and can now take "Nice Pictures." It's true that there is a hint of truth to price points and results. In my case, I shoot with pro gear and $750 to me is a cheap camera. I'm not trying to be rude. I'm simply saying that "great camera" is a relative phrase. At the end of the day, there are other elements that make a photoshoot successful.

The Basic Elements Of A Successful Photoshoot:

1) The camera is of some importance, but more importantly the glass used on that camera. Many new photographers may not understand the importance of the "GLASS" or the "LENS." Yes, I shoot with a pro camera body, but if I had to make a choice, I would buy a less expensive camera body and more a more expensive "LENS."

2) The lighting used whether in studio or out and the general understanding of lighting. Even when I shoot outside, I use strobe lighting for portrait work. In this case, I was shooting in studio with a 4 light setup. My lighting setup for this scene included the following: One light to my left in an octabox with another on the right set to a lower power. One light to the subjects left with a snoot for hair-light which is why the hat is lit up on top. The final light was on the background with a honeycomb grid on it. In addition, I had a silver reflector to the subjects left.

3) Composition is critical to helping your images stand out. It's true that with cropping you can compose after you review your images in post. However, it's good to learn how to compose in camera as much as possible. It will make a difference in how you see the world through your camera. The images at the top of the page are as a I shot them in camera. That doesn't mean the composition is the best it can be because composition is also something that is in the eye of the beholder. In this case, the images are the way that I wanted the camera to see the scene.

4) Conversation with your subject and making him or her feel comfortable is a huge part of a successful photoshoot. It's important to talk with your subject and help the subject get relaxed in front of the camera. When the photoshoot is fun, you can get the occasional silly shot like the first one above. In my case, I photograph A LOT of business professionals. Although a President of a company may not stick out their tongue, I have found that conversation will help them smile, make them relaxed and often times create some laughter in between shots. There are two key pieces that people seek from the photographer during the photoshoot: 1) Please help me feel relaxed. 2) I need some direction.  As a photographer, if you can help your subject feel relaxed while also providing direction with 1, 2 and 3 above incorporated in the mix, you'll be on your way to implementing the basic elements of a successful photoshoot.

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David Williams

Short Bio About The Author: I'm David Williams a professional commercial photographer focusing on corporate and business clients with some personal branding, lifestyle photography in the mix. My love for photography began in late 1981 while still in High School. I started making money with his camera in 1982. Brenda, my wife, and I started working together in photography in 1988 shortly after we met. Brenda and I married in 1989 and have two adult daughters. Please be sure to get a quote for services if needed. Call or Text: 919.723.8453. Please reach out to connect with me on LinkedIn.