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7 Tips for Your First Portrait Portfolio Building Session: Part 1

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7 Tips for Your First Portrait Portfolio Building Session by Pamela Topping

Are considering going from hobbyist to professional? If so, you will need a portfolio.  One great way to build a portfolio is to offer sessions to family, friends and even people you meet while out. Once you schedule a portfolio building session, here are tips for what to do next…

  • Tip 1: Prior to the session, email and explain the Model Release to the client to save time. Make sure the Model Release is signed before you start shooting.
  • Tip 2: Look through fashion magazines beforehand for creative posing, makeup and wardrobe inspiration. You can even put these into a small notebook to keep while you shoot.
  • Tip 3: Accessories and props can add an interesting factor to an image. Popular choices include hippie headbands, knit hats, scarves, parasols, pettiskirts and jewelry. For a clean and simple look, use less than three accessories at a time.

PamelaToppingPhotographyPortraits 7 Tips for Your First Portrait Portfolio Building Session: Part 1 Guest Bloggers Photography Tips

  • Tip 4: Bring a portable chair or step stool to obtain images from above. This is a flattering angle for all subjects.
  • Tip 5: To make sure no ideas are left out, refer often to your pre-written list of poses.

LittlePhotographer-by-Pamela-Topping 7 Tips for Your First Portrait Portfolio Building Session: Part 1 Guest Bloggers Photography Tips

  • Tip 6: For children’s portraits, maintain a balance between balance taking charge and going with the flow. Use their high energy level to your advantage. For example, the subject in the portrait below walked away, but I fell in love with her tiny toddler footprints. I cropped out my helper – rest assured that this little one was safe.

TinyFootprints-by-PamelaTopping 7 Tips for Your First Portrait Portfolio Building Session: Part 1 Guest Bloggers Photography Tips

  • Tip 7: And most importantly, when your subject moves into the most perfect beautiful light, hold them hostage in that spot!

Pamela Topping is a bilingual natural light portrait photographer and USC alum. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and three year old daughter.

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  1. Amy W. on August 30, 2010 at 10:43 am

    great tips, thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

  2. Jamie Solorio on August 30, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Hi there and thank you for such a great article. It was like you read my mind, I am currently trying to do just what your article was about. Love the stool tip, hadn’t thought of that one. Thanks again for your post and your super awesome blog!

  3. Yolanda on August 30, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Since I am in the portfolio building stage right now, I think I might also add two more tips. The first is: take advantage of the full learning opportunity and practice your entire process from consultation and appointment to session, processing, and through proofing, ordering, and delivery. Why only prepare for the shoot when the shoot is only a few hours out of a much longer workflow?The second is: Charge, even if it’s a reduced price. Yes, throw in plenty of incentives as a thank you to those clients who are willing to work with you in this early stage. But deciding that you will charge will force you to get educated and to think about the business side of your creative business. I cannot recommend The Brand Camp blog and the Easy As Pie Pricing Guide enough for helping me grow in this area.

  4. Amanda Padgett on August 30, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Wonderful post, Pamela!! I am (and will be for a while) in my portfolio building stage, so these tips are very handy!

  5. Kyna on August 30, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Thanks for a great topic! Sometimes, the hardest part is getting started…and I appreciate any and all advice! And I’m so excited to read the pricing article tomorrow!!! 🙂

  6. Clipping Mask on August 31, 2010 at 12:51 am

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  7. Image Clipping Path on October 29, 2011 at 4:52 am

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