Avoiding Portrait Session Pitfalls
Expect the Unexpected for Outdoor Portraits
We all want our portrait session to go perfectly. In an ideal world, the light will be just right, our hair will stay perfectly coiffed, and the kids will smile and play together, and the photographer will tell us exactly what to do so that we look like we belong on the cover of a magazine. But things don’t always go as planned. When challenges arise, we want to make sure you have all of the preparation and knowledge available so we can make the most out of your portrait session. Please note that while a lot of our photo sessions occur at the beach, we shoot all over Southwest Florida and this information applies to any outdoor shooting location.
Weather and Environment Challenges
You’re in the Sunshine State! Of course you want to take photos that showcase the beautiful environment around you. But sometimes the weather just doesn’t cooperate. The great thing about outdoor portrait sessions is families look more natural and comfortable in their interactions. The downside is nature can be unpredictable! You may book a sunset portrait session and have the most boring, bland sunset in history. Or it could be so windy you can’t keep your hair under control! These things happen and knowing about the possibility beforehand can help you be better prepared.
- Windy Conditions: it gets very windy at the beach! The outfit and hairstyle you choose can make or break your photos session. Keep in mind that medium to long hair is going to get blown behind your shoulders and into your face. Your photographer will do their best to position you in such a way that your hair isn’t caught in the wind but with no shelter from the elements, windblown hair is an inevitability! Consider braids, hairbands, wraps, scarves, etc. as solutions to this problem if you are concerned about your hair getting in the way. Long dresses look elegant and fun on the beach but can become a tangled mess in some photos during a blustery session, and short dresses can become a hazard as well so just be aware of how you clothing fabric/style/cut will react to the wind when choosing your outfit.
- Cloudless Skies: many clients think that a clear blue sky is the best situation for photos outside because it means no rain. While we love clear skies, we also know that the best sunset beach photos have dramatic clouds. There’s no predicting if you’ll have an impressive sunset or just a plain sky. Additionally, a little cloud cover makes for less harsh light. In the photos above, the light was harsh AND it was windy! Not the best combination. The important thing to remember during your session is to have fun and enjoy each other and don’t fret if the sky looks less awe-inspiring in the photos than you would have liked. In the end, you’ll remember the fun you had that day much longer than you’ll remember what color the sky was!
- Flash or No Flash: did you ever try to take a photo of someone outside a sunset and find that the person looked too dark and the sky looked great? Or that the person looked great but the sky looked way too bright? That is because cameras, no matter how powerful, will never be as complex as the human eye and they just can’t easily expose every situation perfectly. Some photographers will use flash to help the camera out, adding a little light to the subject while retaining the light in the background. There are tradeoffs for this and some people may like one style over the other. Here are a couple of examples of photos with and without flash, created with the intention of showing how flash can help showcase the beautiful environment. Notice how it also creates some highlights on the subjects’ skin.
- Rain: during the rainy season (May-September) the chance of rain is about 50% every day. We’re locals, though, and we have gotten pretty good at reading the radar and the skies! If you or your photographer think the rain is too risky, you can reschedule your session for no extra charge! Just stay in touch with your photographer: if they make the trip out to the shooting location before you call to reschedule, we would need to charge another session fee for the makeup session.
- Public Beaches and Parks: there may be other people in your photos than just your family! Unless you have booked us for a private beach, there will be a chance that someone else may walk into the background of a shot. Our photographers do their best to frame each photo so that the background is free of distractions but in a public location sometimes it is just not possible. We do offer background distraction removal as one of our digital enhancement options so if you’ve got the perfect photo but someone in the background needs to be removed before you want to hang it on your wall, give us a call to consult with our photo editor about taking them out.