Whether you are commissioning a photographer for a private portrait shoot, or you are undertaking a big commercial project for a product/brand, having a brief is very important! It surprises me how many people get in touch to request a quote or book a photoshoot but simply have no idea of what it is they would like.
Creative, not psychic
Whilst most photographers are creative by nature, they very rarely possess the ability to read minds (how damn cool would that be though!?).
Portrait photography applies to photography that focusses on the people in the image. This can either be in a studio environment or outdoors in the streets, a local park or woodland area etc.
Portrait photography covers images of a solo newborn/child/adult, a couple, a family or group. There are also various styles of portraiture photography, for example: Lowkey portraits. These are dramatic, usually black and white style image of stark contrasts between light and shade. They look great printed large onto a canvas and hung in your living room or office space.
Fine art portraits: These are typically more formal looking portraits where the subjects aren't necessary laughing or smiling.
Beauty portraits: Beauty portraits are all about the face, hair and makeup. They are generally really tightly cropped to the face.
Fashion: Fashion portraits are typically full length with the focus being on the outfit.
'Typical portraits' are the sort you will typically see when you think a photoshoot. Happy, smiling portraits of people.
What you should know before contacting your chosen photographer:
Do you want to shoot in a studio or outdoors (location)?
If studio-based, what colour background would you prefer?
What genre/style of portraiture are you wanting?
How many people are to be included in the images?
With this information, your photographer is able to best start advising you correctly and once a booking is confirmed, the photographer will be able to start formulating ideas, poses, lighting options etc.
It's all good and well to 'wing it', but it's your money, and I'd prefer we ensure we get the images you have envisaged. You're not going to be very happy turning up for a shoot with an idea in your head, not verbalising this, and then the photographer goes down a very different path to the one in your vision.
If your photographer does not ask you these questions prior to your shoot, then I would suggest that you bring them up prior to making your booking. Many photographers are either natural light (using natural sunlight to light their subjects) or studio/flash photographers. Many of the more experienced photographers will be equally proficient in either scenario using flash outdoors to enhance a predominately natural light lit image.
My top tip for portraiture preparation
To anyone considering a photoshoot, whether solo or group is to create a board on Pinterest of the types of images you like. Please bear in mind you only have X amount of time for your photo shoot. And it's not likely (unless you are paying for it) that you will shoot in a studio AND outdoors (or vice versa). So when compiling your board, ensure the inspirational images you collect are similarish in some ways, for example, similar/same background colour/outdoor location. Once you've created the album, share it with your Photographer so they have an idea of what YOU like. Professional photographers will then begin the creative process of making those goals achievable. They may advise on outfits. They should definitely be directing (telling you how to pose, move this arm, tilt your head up, turn your shoulders to the left etc) you. They will prepare the studio (where applicable) and lighting so that it complements the style of portraiture you have shared.
Help your photographer to help you
Commercial photography encompasses photography that is used to promote and sell a brand or product.
Genres of commercial photography include:
Staff/business/corporate headshots - these are typically studio based headshots (focussed on the head and shoulders) however outdoor or location style shots are becoming more common. Choose the style that best fits your brand.
Lifestyle brand images (or simply lifestyle portraits) show you and/or your staff going about a 'day as usual'. Whether it's a board meeting, a training session, someone working at their PC, a mechanic under a car or a surgeon performing an operation.
Product photography. As the name suggests this is photography centred on your product/s. Whether you're a winery, brewery, fabricator, crafter good product photography is proven to increase your sales!