Studio Portrait Techniques

by William Lulow

These days, digital imaging has changed the way commercial portrait photography is delivered. I can give clients a custom-made portrait and make it look however the client wants, on the spot.

My technique involves the shoot, where every time the lighting changes I show the client the image on my laptop for approval. If the client likes the basic shot, I then continue shooting until I think I’ve got enough variation of expression and pose and then I more on. I may change the lighting set up to create more or less shadow, increase the fill-in, add or take away highlights. After each change, I put the image on the laptop both for myself and for the client to see if we are proceeding in the right direction.

When I think I’ve taken enough images (for a commercial portrait it has been running between 60 and 100 images), I then bring the client to the office where I have a dual screen set up. I bring the images into Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Bridge and go through the entire shoot as a slide show. I am able to make selects right on the spot. We discuss the intended use of the portrait and how each shot measures up. Hopefully, we can come up with at least a dozen or so “selects.” From this, I want to try to get it down to three or four “finals.” Once the finals are achieved, I then retouch any blemishes, change background colors, or anything else the client thinks needs to be done. Images are then burned to two DVDs as well as the external drive. One DVD goes to the client (with copies of sized and retouched images for direct use or upload to a website), and the other is for my job envelope file. I also print out three to four 8x10s for the client’s personal use.

This system has been working like a charm. Clients are satisfied because they see what they’re getting immediately.