A while back I posted 7 Tips For Taking The Perfect Beach Portrait.
And while choosing the perfect location and the best time of day are important, there is one thing that matters even more.
Even with a great location, if your subjects are just standing there with no connection, you’ll never give your clients the “experience” that makes them want to invest in everything you capture.
1. Frame the image first, then drop your subjects in
The more you photograph, the more you can look at an area and pick out the perfect background. Set you camera up on a tripod and visualize what you want the scene to convey. Then drop your subjects into the perfect location. When you “see” it first, its easy to direct them in a pose. Have them kick the water with their toes. Or hold hands walking down the beach. This makes the portrait session quick, and keeps your clients motivated and happy.
2. Let your subjects connect on their own
Your subjects love each other, and will automatically connect with just a little direction. If they are an engaged couple, with just a little encouragement they will hug and kiss even without your nudge. And a family with young kids will automatically start having fun in the water and the sand. Just let them do what comes naturally. Not only will it look better to the camera, it will look equally pleasing in the final photograph – they will see it as a natural extension of who they are.
3. Repeat the posing
When your subjects are doing something right, tell them. “I love the way you are holding her hand.” or “Leaning in like that really makes this a WOW image.” will cause your subject to focus in on what they are doing, and they’ll remember how it feels. When you ask for a similar pose 10 minutes later, they will automatically repeat that feeling.
4. Add angles
If you’ve ever looked at a portrait where everyone in it is stiff as a board, you know how uncomfortable it can make you feel. People have lines and curves – accentuate it. Bend the arms and legs. Separate people just a bit and have them lean in. You’ll be amazed at the difference you see.
5. Get the best image you can the first time
One of the biggest problems with digital is the “spray and pray” method. You place a subject in an area, shoot dozens of images from all different angles, then head back into the studio to play with Photoshop to make it look good. That method takes away the creativity of creating the perfect photograph the first time around. See your image through the lens first, and use Photoshop later to enhance. You’ll see a big difference in your final photograph.
[None of these environmental beach images are enhanced through Photoshop - these are the original film image files directly from the shoot. ]