How to Set Up and Run a Busy Portrait Studio From Someone Who Already Has! - part 3 of 1 2 3 4 5

by Jonathan Coleman Published 01/02/2014


The Session

Remember, you are shooting for your client, not for you. This means you need to make the whole process as fluid, fun and stress-free as you possibly can. Work quickly, with minimum fuss.

With all this in mind, we always shoot Raw and never use a flash meter except for initial set-up or recalibration of the principal hi-key white background, which is when the client is not with us, anyway. Lights can then be moved as required, children allowed to run, groups positioned all without any technical concerns and any exposure errors quickly corrected in post processing.

We also disable shutter auto focus, assigning it to another local button. This enables you to select your focus point and not be thrown if, for example, a child suddenly moves, runs or lunges at you - something we actively encourage.*

* This URL provides Nikon information on this. Ed

Soft boxes - we use two 52" Larson Starfishes. Not cheap but truly glorious light and they cope exceptionally well with reflections in spectacles. Ours are over 20 years old, a bit tatty but still giving great service.

Backgrounds - a 14ft-wide white (formed from two bits of lino!!) plus three 9ft Colouramas of varying colours for added variety.


If just starting out, create a 'Swipe File' of poses used by other, successful photographers. Check out their websites - chances are the images they show there are the ones that sell.

If you are unsure of how to pose your next client, just remember the triangle rule (the eyes of your clients should be in the shape of a triangle) and sketch out ideas on the back of their booking card so that you can refer to that as you go through the shoot, so keeping it progressing nice and smoothly.

Make sure you include poses that always sell and avoid images that never do. Here are a few examples of shots that we almost always sell from families through babies to makeovers and boudoir.

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