3 Posing Tips for Your Portrait Session

Part of the reason why I love photography is because I don’t have to be in front of the camera =-).

If that sounds like you too, then I have some important advice for you that I’ve learned from being in front of the camera that can make your portrait session much more rewarding.

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Be yourself

One of the best things you can do to improve your portrait shoot is to be yourself. Really! From behind the camera, it’s very obvious when my subject is uncomfortable because they are not acting like themselves. Stiff body lines, pasted grins and body language translate to photos that are not comfortable and whoever sees those photos will understand the same thing. It’s those moments where your happiness are captured and frozen in time that you will see every time you look at that photo that make it a great experience.

 

Trust your photographer7B4A3750-Edit

I want to take photos of my portrait sessions as perfectly as I can. I want you to go home with your photos feeling and looking your best because I have a happy client and because I can use that photo to promote my photography business. If you come to the session knowing that I am there to make you look your absolute best, then you can feel safe that how I direct you is helping you look great. Trusting your photographer helps you both have a great session experience and get great portraits.

 

Come preparedIMG_1068

There are many things you can do to come prepared to your photo shoot. It all depends on what you want to get out of it. A few things that I recommend thinking about prior to your shoot are your clothing and color choices and bring props or an activity that you enjoy. It will make your session more relaxing and fun.

 

 

– Photos By Orion

3 Things to Know Before Scheduling Your Spring Portraits

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Alexis and the Cherry Blossoms

Natural light is your friend

Have you ever had a photoshoot scheduled and it looks like it’s going to rain shortly before your outdoor-Oregon family photo session? Don’t worry too much about it, call your photographer up and see if they think it’ll still be a good time to take photos. If the weather is like many Spring days in Oregon are, there is likely a chance that that dull gray sky will actually enhance your photos. I like to think of those dull gray clouds as a gigantic light diffuser. Talk to your photographer to see if the weather will be good or not, you may be surprised.

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Danika in the Japanese Wisteria

Great foliage backdrops

Spring time is the best time to go out and capture family photos with excellent greenery and flowers. The grass is vibrant green and the flowers are usually plentiful and colorful. If you don’t have a special place in mind for your photoshoot, your photographer will. I have several places around the Willamette Valley that I enjoy taking clients to and I typically try to schedule photoshoots around the times when those flowers and trees look their best. A personal favorite are the Japanese Wisteria in Bush Park.

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The Davidsons in jackets

 

Clothing Choices

The weather in Oregon during the Spring is a time of change and your clothing choices should follow suit. =-) I recommend being prepared for both rain and sun. If you happen to have a new jacket, bring it along. It may go great with the background. Not every photoshoot needs to be formal.

Props

Sometimes, props can be great add-ons to a session. Here in Oregon, an umbrella may not get used in the rain, but it can make a great prop for photos! Giving it a little thought and grabbing a couple things that are special to you can take a good photo session to great in a flash.

 


From your photography team at Photos By Orion

Child's specialty portrait at Bush Pasture Park under blooming tree

Spring portrait opportunity

Child's portrait at Bush Pasture Park in Salem, OR

Beautiful opportunities abound at Bush Pasture Park

Spring time is nearly here and that means there will be some great opportunities for outdoor photography in Salem. One such location that I really enjoy taking photos of families at is Bush’s Pasture Park.

Bush’s Pasture Park is a 90 acre park located just south of downtown Salem. It has several sports fields, including Willamette University’s track and field stadium, a soap box derby track, running trails, open fields and play structures. But that’s not all. It also contains several gardens including a rose garden with gazebo. Wildflowers grow all over the park during the spring and it’s these areas I like to take clients to for photo sessions.

With the plethora of available backgrounds available, I consider Bush’s Pasture Park to be an ideal location for family photo sessions. The rose garden and gazebo are great places to capture classic photos. Add in the few historic buildings in the background and you have an excellent location for photography.

I personally enjoy the extensive Camas meadow. It’s a great location in one of the quieter parts of the park where Camas flowers (Wild hyacinth) bloom in a sweeping bed amongst a small grove of trees. It provides ample shade during hot days and a nice colorful backdrop to photos. (see photo to left). The purple Camas add just enough color to really make the portraits pop.

Family Portrait in Camas medow in Bush Pasture Park Salem, Oregon

 

Another excellent spot is this one tree near the Bush House and rose garden. It only blooms for about a week each year so getting there can be a bit tricky and you have to be flexible with dates to make it work, but the photos from there are simply amazing and worth the hassle! This tree blooms beautifully purple every year and gives the illusion of being surrounded by wild blooms, making for stunning portraits for a small group or individual.

IMG_9869 IMG_5162 Child's specialty portrait at Bush Pasture Park under blooming tree

 

 

 

 

 

The Bush house also offers other beautiful blooms that are around a bit longer than the one tree, and with a large porch there is more room for larger groups.Family Portrait at Bush House in Salem Oregon

Child at Bush House in Salem, Oregon Senior Portrait at Bush House in Salem, Oregon

To book a session at Bush Park, please contact Kathryn at 503-871-8417. For the special tree call between February 15th and April 15th to get on the schedule and we will contact you when the time is right.

What to expect at a portrait session part 3

After the Session: What happens to my pictures now?

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Baby after smashing/eating a cake

Baby’s first birthday cakesmash

When you are finished with a portrait session, there is still a lot of work to be done for the photographer. The first thing that will happen after you leave is that the photographer will transfer the photos from the camera memory to several places. The first is the computer where the editing process will take place, the second is the primary back up, which for us this is another drive in the main editing computer. Finally there is usually at least one other backup done, such as to a server or other memory. This is the most critical time because until the photographer feels the photos are safe, there is always the possibility that something could go wrong and the pictures could be lost.

Once the photographer is satisfied that the pictures are safe and backed up, then the initial culling process happens. This is where the photographer goes through the pictures and removes all those where the subject (that’s you) is blinking, moving, or talking so that their expression is not good. After this initial culling process, the photos are then cropped as necessary and put into a proof gallery. This gallery is then given to you in some form (most photographers do online proof galleries now) so you can choose which photos you like and would like digitally mastered. This whole process typically takes a couple days to a week after the photo session depending on how busy your photographer is.

After you have chosen your favorite portraits, the photographer then goes back and perfects those photos. This can be as simple as adjusting a color or as complex as creating specialty colors or skin adjustments. The timing of this part of the process really depends on the proofs and what you wish to have done to them. Next, the portraits are adjusted for printing and for viewing to maximize their beauty for whatever form you wish them in. It can take anywhere from a couple days to a couple weeks to finish all these adjustments.

Finally, if you are having your portraits printed by the photographer then the printing process will begin. This again can vary depending on the number and size of prints you have ordered. This could be anywhere between a week and two weeks to get them all printed and shipped or delivered to you. If you ordered a high resolution CD, then the pictures are burned onto the CD, which takes about an hour, and then it can be delivered to you.

If you are looking to save money overall, purchasing the HRCD with printing rights will save you money when you do want to make prints. Typically, whether the photographer is printing in-house or outsources printing to a professional lab, it is more expensive to print through the photographer than to have the prints done yourself. This is true for the lab we use as well. The wholesale cost to us as the photographer is more than they charge you as a consumer for the same service. Make sure you know what you are getting, however, as each photographer’s contract is different and will charge accordingly. There is a huge difference between getting printing rights or usage rights and getting the copyrights. Some people will insist that you MUST get the copyrights, but for most people, this is more expensive and more of a hassle than they would want.

This is a very generalized guide to what happens during a typical portrait session and is meant to help you be more comfortable with the process. The more comfortable you are, the better your portraits will be! I hope you have found it helpful.

What to expect at a portrait session part 2

During the Session

Now that you have all the details worked out, you are ready to head into the photography studio and get to the actual picture taking. This is why you originally called your photographer, but it can also be nerve racking, uncomfortable, and down right scary. Photographers know this and most will try to make the process as easy as possible while still working with you to help bring your vision of a family portrait to life.

If you have not done it before the session, the first thing that will happen is that you and your photographer will decide which backgrounds you would like to use. Most photographers will have several colored and/or patterned

Senior Portrait

Senior Portrait

backgrounds to choose from besides the standard black, white, and cream. This will help you choose an outfit if you brought more than one and will set the mood for your portrait. Solid black, white or cream backgrounds tend to be more serious and artistic, while colors and patterns can be used for both serious and more fun poses, giving them a bit more versatility.

Next, the photographer will have you sit or stand where you will be for your portraits and begin working with lighting. Lighting is a key ingredient to great portraits and it should take the photographer anywhere from 2-6 minutes to arrange things properly so you have the best lighting possible. This is also a great time for you to ask any questions you may have. This allows you not only to get even more of a feel for how the photographer works but also for you to relax a bit.

Being relaxed is one of the best things you can do to ensure your portraits will reflect the true you. A genuine smile can make a portrait and bring in that wow factor everyone desires, while a tense smile will show through and make you look rigid and unhappy. If the studio has the capability like ours does, you may wish to bring or request music to be played during your session which will help you be relaxed and more you.

Next comes the hardest part of the session, posing. Photographers will try to find the poses best suited for you, but this is where a little research beforehand can keep you in control of the photo shoot. Having 3 or 4 poses which you would like to try will help move things along and will give the photographer a really good idea of what you are looking for. Then the photographer may be able to suggest small changes or poses of a similar style which will complement you and still achieve the kind of portrait you are looking for.

Once you are posed, the photographer will begin taking the actual pictures. The biggest thing to remember during this time is that whatever you are feeling will come through in your eyes. You could have the greatest smile you have ever had, but it won’t matter if your eyes are saying you are uncomfortable or unhappy. A smile can be faked some of the time, what your eyes say cannot. This is why it is so important that you are comfortable with your photographer and why most photographers will ALWAYS suggest meeting before the actual photo session. The more comfortable you are, the more it will show through in your portraits and the better they will look.

Next time…Part three: After the portrait session

Previous blog: Part One: Before the Session

What to expect at a portrait session (Part 1 of a 3 part series)

Family photo - Eugene, Oregon

Family photo – Eugene, Oregon

Before the Session

It is always advisable to meet with your chosen portrait photographer before your session for a consultation. Not only does this let you get comfortable with your photographer, but also allows you both to discuss what you are looking for in your portraits. Many people know that portraits, especially family portraits, are important and good to have, but they do not think beyond that. There are several elements to be considered before the session can begin.

Type of Photography:

The first thing to consider is what type of portrait photography you want. There are a few different kinds: traditionally posed, candid or lifestyle, artistically posed, and dramatically posed. Whichever of these photography themes you choose will have an influence on all of the other elements of the session.

Clothing and Accessories:

The next thing to consider is what to wear. This is not only dependent on what looks good on you, but also on the backgrounds you choose or that your photographer has and what you wish your photographs to look like. Most photographers will have a standard black, white, and cream background, as well as a few others. If you are outdoors in the green lush valley, you probably don’t want to be wearing green as you will blend in to your surroundings. You should discuss with your photographer what color combinations will go well with the type of photography you want.

Props and arrangements/must have list:

Finally, spend some time considering arrangements of subjects. For a single person getting portraits, this is more of considering any props you would like to have. Many people choose musical instruments or special gear/outfits. For a family or multiple families getting portraits, consideration should be given to groups. For example, for a family there are many different groupings you could have. In addition to a photo of everyone, there can be a picture of the parents only, the children as a group, and singles of each child. For multiple families, there are so many combinations it is important to consider them before you get into the session.

All of these things must be considered before a portrait session can begin, and if you wait until the day of the session, these decisions can cut into your session time. We offer a free consultation prior to the session to take care of these details without costing you session time. Even if you choose to take care of these details on the day of your session, be sure to consider them ahead of time as this will make the process faster and give you more time in front of the camera. After all, that is why you are there!

Next article…During the Session

A comparison of photography styles. Which style is right for me?

Couple Kissing in vineyard

Which photographic style is your favorite?

In several of the last few articles posted, I have discussed the different styles of portrait photography without really describing what those styles are. I hope this article will shed some light on the subject (pun intended) and help you decide which style or combination of styles most fits you.

Traditional studio posed

When most people think of portrait photography, this is the style they are thinking of. This is where you go into a studio, have a solid or specialty backdrop, everyone is positioned around one family member (usually mom) and you all smile towards the camera. Although it has evolved some over the past century as photographic equipment has gotten better, for the most part this has become the staple of portrait photography and is consistent over different types of portraits (family, individual, business, etc.). There are some things which can be added into these types of photos which will spice them up but still keep the essentially a traditional studio shot. Some of these things include instruments, sports equipment, toys for children, or your family pet. This type of portraiture is still the most common, where you are posed by the photographer and they take the portrait of all of you looking at the camera.

Child in swing, portrait from Photos by Orion

Lifestyle photography is great for kids and families!

Lifestyle/Candid

Lifestyle and candid photographers are very common now. While they are not the same, they share many similar traits. Lifestyle photographers typically will take a subject, put them in an environment and will ask for eye contact while get photos in that setting. For example, when I do outdoor portraits with children I will usually employ a combination of posed and lifestyle photography. I try to take the child to a local park, will get some posed photography in the beginning in the lush greens, then will end at a playground where I only ask the child to look at me and smile when I ask for it. Otherwise I just follow the child around and capture photos of them doing what they love to do, play.

Candid photography is similar, except that there is no asking for eye contact. A candid photographer would take the child to the playground and get photos of them playing on the equipment, but would not get too many photos of the child looking at the camera.

Photojournalistic

The photojournalistic style has been greatly romanticized over the last 5 years or so. A true photojournalistic style is similar to lifestyle photography, but with a black and white touch and a “did our photographer even show up” feel. When you hire a photojournalist to document your wedding, their job is to observe without interference. If they have done their job correctly, you should see them when they arrive and when they leave, but not really notice them throughout the day. True Photojournalists do not ask you to look at the camera, do not edit much beyond conversion to black and white (besides maybe some contrast adjustments), and are excellent storytellers. You should be cautious to really get a good look at the work of photographers stating they are photojournalists, as it is rare to get a skilled photojournalist. There are many photographers who claim to be photojournalist but are really candid/lifestyle photographers. Photojournalistic wedding photography, is both an acquired taste and a hard skill to master, so if this style really speaks to you be prepared to pay more for a skilled photojournalist.

Artistically desaturated bride by Photos By Orion

Artistic portraits can add a little class to your portraits.

Artistic

Artistic portraits are done with some specialty settings. It can either be your outfits, such as Victorian or western dress, lighting, such as all black except for your face, or it can be specialty tones such as sepia or selective desaturation. Any of these elements, and many others, can create an artistic feel to a photography session. All photographers are artists, but each photographer will develop their own style. This is again why it is important to research your photographer and find one whose style you like.

The importance of a current family photo

Like you, and most people I would assume, I like having family portraits around and know that they play an important role over a lifetime. You would think that as a photographer that I would have at least a new portrait every year, but like everyone else, I too have failed to make the time in the past. Sadly, life rarely gives us the time to even think about needing a new portrait, let alone being able to call around to photographers, schedule a session, and get one taken.

There are many reasons to get family portraits done: they chronicle the extremely fast growth of our beloved children, they give us something to put on our Christmas cards, and as I and my extended family recently found out, they give us a way to look back and remember.

This month, my uncle who was in his late 50s passed suddenly from something that his doctors had missed even a couple days before his passing. He left behind a wife and 5 daughters as well as 3 siblings and numerous nieces and nephews. As I was preparing a slideshow presentation for showing at his funeral, I was saddened to see how few of pictures we had of him. Now my uncle was not the type of person who liked to be in front of a camera, so it wasn’t a total surprise that the number was less than his age, but what caused some unnecessary pain for his family was that he had no pictures from when he was with his ex-wife and his two oldest daughters. Even his daughters did not have many photos of them with their father. I was unable to represent them in the slideshow and it seemed unfair and silly that he did not take one hour of his time each year to get photos of himself with his family. It doesn’t seem like a lot to ask, but for so many of us we just don’t give it a second thought as we go through our lives.

So remember, don’t get pictures for yourself, get family portraits for your children and grandchildren. Life is so unpredictable that you never know what situations a fresh family portrait will come in handy. And if nothing else, it gives you the satisfaction of knowing your loved ones will always be able to remember you. You are special and unique and should exist in photos, even if only for your loved ones.

In Loving Memory of Richard J. Webber, Jr. May 1952 – March 2010

Family Portrait - Eugene, Oregon

Family Portrait – Eugene, Oregon

Girl with guitar

Welcome to the new PBO and SYP blog

Hello world! Welcome to the new PBO and SYP blog. We are integrating both blogs in order to bring you more informative and inspiring posts! Over the next few months we will be converting our old posts to keep all those great posts you love, like copyrights vs. print rights, how to prepare for a family photo session, and great places to get photos around the Willamette Valley, as well as new posts on topics like “What rights do I have when I purchase a CD from my photographer” and more!

Please continue to enjoy all the articles we have to offer!

Girl with guitar

Portraits should reflect you and what you love!