Five Ways To Take Better Portraits - Carla Coulson
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Five Ways To Take Better Portraits

parisfilmnoir, Carla Coulson, thebubblejoy, linda karlsson, Jasmijn van ooy, portrait paris, black and white photography, photographing women, photography tips, portraiture, portraiture tips

Linda Maria Karlsson | @lindamariakarlsson | Copyright Carla Coulson

Dear Photographers,

I love portraiture! I love the challenge of working with people and creating an image that they love and I do too.

Working with people can be tricky, I have found it takes a greater energetic investment than landscape or cityscape photos so you need to be in the right mood to be able to give to your portrait subjects, to then receive something back reflected in the image.

parisfilmnoir, Carla Coulson, thebubblejoy, linda karlsson, Jasmijn van ooy, portrait paris, black and white photography, photographing women, photography tips, portraiture, portraiture tips

Marine | Copyright Carla Coulson

I thought it would be fun to share with you 5 tips that I take in my ‘toolkit’ each time I go to a portrait shoot.

  1. What do they want? – Before I start any shoot whether it be for a magazine or a private client or even for myself I ask what the client wants? Magazines always give a brief to a photographer of what they require and over the years I came up with my own ‘brief’ when working privately to ask my clients questions that would help me formulate where to start! Their answers have proved invaluable to me. The more I know about them the easier it is for me to get it right.

 

  1. Time – I give myself plenty of time on the shoot and make sure I am never late. As I am directing the shoot I need to be in a relaxed state otherwise my portrait subject will start to feel unnerved from the beginning. I make sure I allow an amount of time up to 30 minutes when I can chat with them, take a look around their house or have a coffee. Getting to know them is important before I get out the camera.

parisfilmnoir, Carla Coulson, thebubblejoy, linda karlsson, Jasmijn van ooy, portrait paris, black and white photography, photographing women, photography tips, portraiture, portraiture tips

Jasmijn Van Ooy | @jasmijnpicturesthis | Copyright Carla Coulson

 

  1. Your Vision – I like to have a creative starting point even before I arrive at my shoot. That starting point generally comes from a brief I have asked my client to complete and scouting the location or other historical, film or creative references. I love to make moodboards and often I do this on Pinterest. This can help a client get into the mood of things and see where I am going. Trust is everything and getting a client excited about your vision builds trust and the more they trust you the easier it will be for you to ask them to dance on tables or hose their husband down!! (well you know what I mean)

 

  1. Lens options – This is not essential, so if you are just starting out please don’t think you have to buy numerous lenses but if you haven’t had a chance to scout a location having options of wider focal lengths such as a 35 mm can instantly give you more space in a room. Even though portrait lenses such as an 85mm are glorious, sometimes they can be too tight if you are wanting to tell a little more story with your portrait.

parisfilmnoir, Carla Coulson, thebubblejoy, linda karlsson, Jasmijn van ooy, portrait paris, black and white photography, photographing women, photography tips, portraiture, portraiture tips

Mithra Ballestros | @thebubblejoy | Copyright Carla Coulson

 

  1. Playful energy – I don’t want to say that I am on a trampoline fist pumping before I go to a portrait shoot but I am very conscious of my energy. I have learnt that portraiture for women, in particular, makes them feel vulnerable and exposed and when women feel that way they often shut down. I try and make it fun so they forget it’s a portrait shoot and ends up feeling more like dress-ups with your girlfriends. The more your portrait subject gives, the better photos you will always have so I give as much as I can on the day and most of the time this is returned over and over again.

 

I hope this helps you take better portraits and have fun doing them. Love to hear your tips.

Sending love,

Carla x

4 Comments
  • Thanks Carla! Great advice.

    February 6, 2019 at 5:24 am
  • Those photos of Marine made my heart hurt! So dreamy. Thank you for the tips! I love to make a little play list for clients based on their favourite songs and artists… helps to relax the mood! Jodi xx

    February 12, 2019 at 12:29 pm