Studio portraits may seem overly simple, but the thing I love about creating studio portraits is how all the attention is on the people, their personalities and relationships. There is no background setting to tell a story, true, but the simplicity of a studio setting ensures all your attention will be on the people. That being said, I do have some tips for the next time you plan a studio portrait session.
5 Tips for Great Studio Portraits
1. Coordinate Your Attire – While you don’t have to wear “uniforms” or have matching shirts, when photographing multiple people in the studio, I always recommend coordinating the attire. Maybe something simple, like shades of black and gray with jeans. Jewel tones like purple can work well too. If you’re unsure, it never hurts to ask for your photographer’s opinion (just saying!).
2. Details Matter – What you wear will be front and center, your accessories will be visible. They will either draw attention away from you, or compliment you in the portraits. For women, jewelry choices are important to consider. Do you want to go with something more classic, like pearls? Or more modern? Make sure to pay attention to where the necklace falls in relation to the neckline of your shirt or dress. For men, a sharp tie can add to the portrait, while a loud and cheesy patterned one can detract. Details are important, so make sure to consider your entire outfit when planning your studio portrait.
3. Go With a Tried and True Hairstyle – Stick with a style or haircut that you know you love. Don’t go trying something new the day of your portrait session, because if you don’t like how your hair looks in the portraits, you’re not really going to love the portraits themselves either. For those concerned about receding hairlines or stray hairs, know that qualified photographers have tricks of the trade to take care of these concerns and minimize the appearance of issues like this.
4. Avoid Transition Lenses – If you wear glasses, that’s ok — qualified photographers know how to work with glasses and eliminate lens glare. The only thing we can’t really do much about? Those nifty glasses that automatically become sunglasses when you go outdoors. Transition lenses tend to have issues photographing well, so it’s best to leave those at home in favor of a more traditional set of glasses.
5. Be Yourself – Don’t try to force a smile that isn’t “you,” or wear clothing that is totally out of character for you. You will feel most comfortable being yourself, wearing what you normally wear, or smiling like you usually smile. Fake smiles are easy to spot — and you won’t like the end results from your studio portrait session if your smile looks forced or awkward. I always do my best to capture a variety of expressions and smiles, just to give you options during the ordering process. While I might know which smiles look natural and genuine, ultimately it’s your opinion that matters — these studio portraits will be enjoyed by you and your family, so you want them to look right!
Family Studio Portraits
I love photographing families when they get together from out of town. The studio portraits below are of a brother and sister who live multiple states apart. We did a portrait session in the studio, something simple, but relaxed enough to capture their unique sibling relationship.