Thank you for visiting our New Jersey professional portrait photographer blog.  Here’s is something that comes up regularly and we thought it would be a fun blog post. This is what we hear all the time! Even portrait photographers will be able to learn a thing or two.

There’s something about this portrait.

When showing our clients their portraits they clients often like a particular portrait but they don’t know why.  Whether it’s a portrait of a single child, an executive headshot, or a beach portrait of thirty people on the sand in Sea Girt there are some portraits that speak to our clients more than others. Essentially they know it’s well done but they don’t know why. They are not sure what makes this portrait come together compared to what some other family portrait photographers capture. However, we usually know exactly why.

It’s typically a combination of things.

  • The photographers at Wilson Photography understand lighting. We don’t flat light our subjects. Our portraits will most likely have a highlight side and a shadow side. This gives the face more of a three dimensional look.  There are times when lighting the subjects with flat lighting makes sense. An example of this would be of a large group on the beach.  If you light the group with a light coming from the side it will cast shadows on the the subjects shirts and results in an amateurish looking family portrait. Photography is about painting with light. If a photographer is bragging about being an available light photographer my suggesting would be to run, and to run fast. This only means that they don’t understand lighting.
  • Posing the subjects takes years to learn. There are some poses that every client likes. Whether it’s a corporate headshot or a family portrait, posing is a key ingredient to a successful portrait.  Let’s talk about corporate headshots a bit. When you pose somebody and have them leaning forward a bit this gives them more of a confident look. Leaning forward is also a poker tell. When a beginner poker player leans forward when they receive a card typically means they like the card they just got. They are confident. When the poker player leans back it usually means it’s not the card they wanted. They lean back because they now lack confidence.  Posing with the subject leaning and to the side a bit is typically more a feminine look. So if that’s not the kind of look you want, whether you are a man or a woman then it’s always a good idea to have the subjects lean forward.
  • With family portraits whether it’s a group of four or a family of fifteen there are certain compositions that our clients gravitate to more so  than others. This typically has to do less with about the lighting and more how the family is posed. The most common type of pose is the pyramid composition.  This is the composition portrait photographers learn first. When done right it’s a great way to pose a family. The one that we do often is the check mark pose. This is when the family is posed and you can literally see a check mark.  Take a look at the images below to better understand this.
  • Great expressions is key in order for a portrait to be great. I won’t go too much into this but this is typically the easiest thing to understand why you like the portrait.  Whether it’s an authentic natural smile or a beautiful pensive look, a great expression is the icing on the cake. However, this doesn’t happen by accident. The photographers at Wilson Photography understand how to capture these expressions. It’s what we do. It’s one of the things that separates us from the other portrait photographers.
  • Making a connection with the subjects is what separates the women from the girls and the men from the boys. A photojournalistic approach is often as my friend Wendy Zweifel would say “Glorified Candid’s”. We will get some slack for saying this. However, the candid portraits that people often like, people like yourself that like these portraits are actually “posed” photographs. They rarely happen out of the blue. The photographer creates these situations and with years of experience they come across as photojournalistic. Although it may not be true photojournalism the connection that the subjects create is as authentic as Oma’s  apple pie or NaNa’s Sunday gravy. What we have learned over the years is that clients don’t necessary want a specific style. However, what they do want are beautiful family heirlooms that can be passed down from generation to generation. Below we have a couple of examples of everything that we talked about above.

New Jersey Professional Portrait Photographer

Below are some examples so you get a better understanding of what we are talking about.

New Jersey Professional Portrait Photographer

An example of a check mark pose with a large group.

The Pyramid / Triangle Pose – A Portraits Photographer first family portrait pose that they learn. When done right it’s very effective.

An example of great lighting.

Great lighting, tough to do as we talked about above with large groups. Usually a shadow will be created on the shirts of the subjects. However, with families of six or less it ends up adding something a little more special to the portrait. Notice how there’s a highlight side and a shadow side. Sometimes, but not often you can create this without any off camera lighting that was used here. Although, you won’t be able to created it throughout the session when working in multiple sections of the park or beach that your are at.  We always bring extra lighting in our camera bag so we can capture portraits with beautiful lighting each and every time. The two examples below are proof of that.

New Jersey Professional Portrait Photographer

We talked about what makes for a good corporate headshot. The first pictures below are what we were talking about above. Posing the subject a little back and to the side. This is often is known as more of a feminine power look. It screams confidence. She is sitting on a stool and their is another stool that she is leaning on. We had our client cross her legs because this gives an extra flattering shift to her shoulders and as a result makes for a power executive business portrait.  Notice that there’s an obvious highlight and shadow on the face. This is great portrait lighting. Executive portraiture should never have flat lighting. However, when doing your due diligence when hiring a NJ Headshot photographer you will see mostly flat lighting.

The second business portrait of the man is also what we describe above. Since he is leaning forward it gives him a strong masculine look.  Although it’s masculine, we certainty suggest for women to be posed like this. In this PC world we probably shouldn’t say this but we will anyhow. It’s okay to pose a woman in a masculine pose but it’s not okay to pose a man in a feminine pose.

Above we talked about “posed” photojournalism and making a connection with the subjects. This is what we were talking about. This is probably the most difficult skill to master as a portrait photographer especially when you have clients that have expectations where good enough isn’t at all good enough.

We hope that you have enjoyed this blog post. We don’t expect anyone to read it all. However, if you did we truly appreciate it. If you have any questions then please fill out the form below and we will be happy to answer any questions that you may have. We will even answer any SEO questions that you may have.