A portrait photoshoot consists of far more than simply pushing a button.
When done properly, great and telling questions are asked during the pre-shoot consultation to guide creative choices when the camera is actually applied.
Questions might include such queries as…
What is the main purpose for choosing me as a photographer? What do you like about my images?
What is the desired final output for these images/video? To eventually order prints/enlargements (if so, what sizes)? For sharing online on a website or on social media?
- Follow-up: When framing images, does the photographer need to be mindful of a certain cropping dimension (horizontal or vertical) or leave space around the subject for adding a logo or other graphic elements to be added later?
- Follow-up: Is this for personal use/sharing like sharing on social media or a dating website? Or for some commercial use, such as a professional headshot for business cards or presenting at auditions, etc.?
- Follow-up: What are the client’s needs and expectations for final delivery of the photography? Is there a soft or hard deadline to factor into processing and delivery of the finished, retouched product?
Are you (or is the subject, if discussing someone else) a shy or outgoing person?
- Follow-up: How are your friends and family accustomed to seeing you in everyday life? Extroverted or introverted?
- Follow-up: Are you wanting to be captured on camera as you normally are seen by others? Or do you want to play against type and portray someone you’d rather be?
- Follow-up: Are there any objects, outfits or settings/backgrounds that we could incorporate into the portrait shoot as Props? Or, what outfits would you want to wear for the photo session?
- Follow-up: If a place is central to capturing this side of you, is special permission needed to do a photoshoot at that location? If it is a large area, should we focus on one particular section? Can you acquire the necessary permission to gain access? What is the specific address? When are dates and times we could do a photo session there? For how long can we shoot? Will any special equipment be needed? Will there be restrictions on any gear we can bring? Or, where do you want to get together and do this photo session?
Follow-up: What do you want to stay away from? Are there any cliches to avoid or things you are sick of seeing?
What is the emotion, feeling or vibe you want to portray in these images? Is it fun, playful, mysterious, cute, sexy, serious, reserved, professional, etc…? Or is this a straightforward capture?
- Follow-up: Does the subject need to look directly at the camera and engage? Or is the camera meant to function like a fly-on-the-wall capturing what appears to be an unaware subject acting naturally in a portrayed situation?
Are there any body parts that the subject is sensitive about? What do people compliment him/her about? What is the subject’s favorite thing about his/her body or personal style?
- Follow-up: In the studio on seamless paper? On location at a home, office, or some setting outdoors?
- Follow-up: If outside of the studio, why choose this location in particular? Does it have special significance? Great light? Does it tell a story?
- Follow-up: Is this location secure? Will passersby interfere with our session?
Are you wanting to replicate a style or vibe of a photo or video you saw elsewhere? How closely do you want to emulate that? What do you like about the reference images you sent me?
- Follow-up: What are the things you HAVE to have in the images? Do you have the necessary outfits, props, or a suitable location for that to happen?
- Followup: Are the conditions suitable to achieve this? (for example, are you wishing to replicate a summertime photo during a dreary, freezing day?) Do we need to wait for the environment to more closely resemble what you liked about the photo you want to re-create?
- Follow-up: Are we following a specific genre formula? Such as editorial fashion? Pin-Up style glamour? Fitness? Punk rock? Business formal?
- Followup: Are there any special effects that you want applied to the end result? Cross-processing? Matte look or high contrast? Does the photographer have free reign to make these choices?
What outfits will be needed for this photo session? Do you already own or need to buy/borrow?
- Followup: If more than person, do the outfits need to closely match or coordinate to convey harmony?
- Followup: Will the clothing choices intentionally evoke a theme such as “sexy” or “classy”, and if so, are we talking bold or understated?
- Followup: Do you wish to use your own service providers? Or connect with referred professionals for working out a quote for them to contribute?
Follow-up: Is it likely that post-production editing will be needed for removing blemishes or making the subject appear slimmer in the final photo?
- Follow-up: Are we going for a usual style or attempting a new look that is experimental? Will a test look leave the subject looking familiar? If this new style does not work, will it affect how the subject feels about the photographs? (I usually recommend against a radical overhaul unless the photo session is intentionally about achieving this).
How much TOTAL time will you have for makeup, hair, and the photo shoot?
- Followup: Will you need to arrive camera-ready?
Is there anything the photographer can do to make you feel more at ease?
- Follow-up: Will you bring music to listen to? If so, what?