Wardrobe and Location Suggestions
These are some basic guidelines for your shoot. They are not rules, and you can choose to follow them or not. In general, these suggestions will result in the best portrait images, but there are always exceptions and situations where "breaking the rules" can produce a more interesting result.
What and what not to wear:
Avoid bright colors
A pop of color here and there is ok, but a large, solid, colorful area will distract from faces which is what we want to see in a portrait. More muted tones are preferred except for small accents. A brighter shirt under a darker jacket is a good example. A bright white shirt by itself will not be flattering on anyone while a dark shirt or layers can be slimming.
Avoid Loud or complex patterns
This is similar to the bright color problem. Patterns in an image pull the focus away from the subject. Simple patterns in moderation are ok, but solid neutral colors are best.
Cover skin where appropriate
Skin tones attract the eye. For female subjects, this is a judgment call based on the type of image you desire. We want to focus on your faces in a family portrait. if it's an individual shot and you want a more provocative look, you can reveal more. For guys, avoid wearing shorts or short sleeves unless it is the specific look you are going for. An example would be a senior picture in your basketball jersey etc...
Use makeup and jewelry subtly
People want to see the real you and a little makeup goes a long way. There's nothing wrong with applying it to enhance features or cover blemishes. Just keep in mind that your photos will be around for a long time. fashion changes constantly so the more timeless the look, the better. Too much bling with be distracting as well. Keep it minimal and simple.
Location, location, location:
Don't be afraid to step outside of the box
Pictures in a studio, in front of a muslin backdrop are fine, but there's nothing unique about it. Shooting outdoors can produce so much more natural looking photos and give you the freedom to try some fun ideas. Use props or the environment to do something interesting. Take some standard poses as well but it's your shoot. Have some fun with it!
Choose a simple backdrop
Whether we are shooting indoors or outdoors, the setting should not be the focus of a portrait. Too much clutter in a shot will be distracting but a nice row of trees extending in the distance will look very pleasing. We can suggest some local parks or other outdoor locations if you would like some ideas. For shoots in your home, try to prepare an area with a relatively "clean" wall or other backdrop.
Make sure there is plenty of room
There will need to be adequate space for lighting equipment and camera positioning. The closer the camera is to the subject, the more distorted the picture gets through the lens. Sometimes this can work if it's shot at a flattering angle for an individual portrait. It's difficult to get a nice group shot with a wide angle lens though when space is tight.
These are some of the services I like for printing and a brief description:
If you have a Costco membership, you're probably already familiar with the joy of buying mayonnaise by the gallon. But, they also do decent quality photo prints and other photo products. You can upload your pictures on-line and then pick up the prints in as little as an hour or two at your local Costco warehouse. Costco is the budget option but suitable for most printing needs.
Tip: I suggest selecting the lustre paper for the best looking prints. Glossy is the default and what you would typically get from most local printing services but glossy paper produces a lot of glare. Lustre is no extra charge and looks a lot better in my opinion.
For consumer friendly on-line printing services, Shutterfly is probably my first pick. Print quality is good and they offer a ton of customizable photo products for decent prices.
Tip: For paper prints, choose matte instead of glossy. It's basically the same as the lustre option at Costco just called matte instead. Once again, it's just better looking in my opinion and less glare.
I can't say that I have actually used this service yet, but it does look very similar to Shutterfly. I'll be sure to update this entry if I do end up ordering something from them in the future.
This site is more for professional photographers, but they do very nice work. I like the metallic paper option. They also have a "true black and white" print option. Black and white prints are often done on a color printer and may show a color tint. They are primarily focused on high-end printing and do not offer quite as many consumer friendly photo products. They do have the usual cards, photo books and calendars etc... But, if you want a very nice print, this is the service for you.
Below are some web sites and blogs that I enjoy:
This is my wife's blog. She is a quilter, jewelry maker and all around crafty person.
This is Trey Ratcliff's website and blog. He is really the king of HDR photography. His work is incredible and he has a how-to guide explaining what hardware and software he uses as well as techniques. He sparked my interest in HDR when he made an appearance on a podcast I listen to regularly.
This is a technology podcast network started by Leo Laporte. There is an entire line-up of tech shows, including TWiT Photo. It's flagship show is This Week in Tech, which is where the TWiT name comes from.