Before I got to have a proper go at outdoor portrait photography I thought the techniques would be the same as indoor portrait photography. Needless to say I was wrong, and my first outdoor photography was a real wakeup call and showed how naïve I had been. Yep, outdoor portrait photography requires a totally different skill set than indoor portrait photography.
When shooting portraits indoors you have total control over the lighting and you can do whatever you want with it. When taking indoor portraits you can shoot using ambient light only, you can shoot using just strobe lights/flash light or you can mix the two up and play with ambient/artificial ratios. When shooting portraits indoors you decide where you want the shadows, you decide how dark you want the shadows to be and you shape the shadows. The first thing you will discover when taking outdoor portrait photography shots is that you have little control over the light. Sure, you can do things to make it easier to work with, but at the end of the day Mother Nature dictates what you can and can’t do.
Before I first started taking outdoor portrait photography shots I read several articles and blog posts about “over powering the sun”, i.e. effectively having total control over the outdoor ambient light. The theory behind these articles made sense, and it seemed viable that this could be done but in reality it can’t. My experience in trying to overpower the sun has shown that it can’t be done, and anyone who says otherwise is seriously mistaken. At first, I thought I was doing something wrong however when I got some guys from the local camera club involved we put our heads together, we experimented, and we all reached the same conclusion – overpowering the sun isn’t possible. The first large obstacle to deal with when taking outdoor portrait photography shots is the sun, and knowing what to do when there is too much sunlight as well as insufficient sunlight.
When there is too much sunlight you will need to try and block it out and reduce the amount of light hitting the camera’s sensor. Shooting at narrow apertures is the obvious way to restrict the amount of light, however shooting at narrow apertures maximises the depth of field, which is not what we want when taking portraits.
Ideally, we want to shoot portraits wide open with the widest aperture possible so to create a shallow depth of field, resulting in a photo with the model in sharp focus against a nicely blurred out background. In order to shoot at wide apertures the first thing you could do is move the model in to the shade. This seems pretty obvious, but what if the outdoor portrait photography shoot is in the middle of an open grass land or on the beach? In this scenario you could try and shade the model using a reflector, however you will need an assistant to help you out with this.
If getting the model in to the shade isn’t possible the only viable alternative is to use an ND filter to try and restrict the amount of light. I have to say that even if I can move the model in to the shade I prefer to use an ND filter so I can shoot at wide apertures. Shading the model casts shadows over the model, which creates another issue to deal with. Sometimes, the shadows produced moving the model in to the shade is pleasing, however more often than not they are not.
When using an ND filter to restrict the effect of the sun it is important to use an ND filter that is just strong enough. ND filters often create colour casts and the stronger the ND filter the more obvious the colour cast, and the more difficult it is to remove in the digital darkroom. When using an ND filter for outdoor portrait photography shoots you should only ever use single strength ND filters, and under no circumstances use a variable ND filter. Whilst the thought of a single filter being able to change the strength of the ND filter without changing filters is cool, in reality it doesn’t work and the variable ND filters you often see for sale are a total waste of money.
Another thing you have to keep in mind with outdoor portrait photography is where to position your model. Shooting directly in to the sun not only plays havoc with metering and exposure but also creates hotspots and star bursts. When shooting in to the sun the model will be backlit which means you will have to light the front of the model (either with artificial light or by reflecting natural light) to balance the exposure. Shooting in to the sun creates too many issues and problems, so don’t do it. If the model faces the sun the model is going to be nicely lit but is likely to be squinting (unless wearing sunglasses of course) which is not a good look.
The trick is to position the model where it will not only be nicely lit but also where it will not be squinting. This may seem obvious, but trying to achieve this isn’t always possible. There will be some outdoor portrait photography shoots where getting the model in the best position simply isn’t going to happen, which means you are going to have to compromise and have to deal with the issues that arise.
If you want to be successful with outdoor portrait photography one of the key things you have to learn is how to deal with sunlight and there are times when you have to be prepared for insufficient sunlight as well as too much sunlight, and know how to deal with each scenario accordingly.
Boudoir photography can be very lucrative, and there is a lot of money to be made offering boudoir photography services, however it is not a photography service that all photographers can provide. When I say, not all photographers can provide boudoir photography services I don’t mean they don’t have the skill or know how to take boudoir shots, after all it is nothing more than a specific form of portrait photography, what I mean is they don’t have the personal attributes to be successful in boudoir photography.
If you want to make money with boudoir photography you have to be a certain type of person and have specific attributes. What are these attributes I hear you cry? What do you need to make it in boudoir photography?
In order to be a good boudoir photography you need:-
To be discreet
If there is one type of photography where you need total discretion at all times it is with boudoir photography. You need to remember that you will be taking intimate shots of models (both female and male) in various states of undress, acting out fetishes and fantasies, wearing erotic clothing and possibly in naughty fancy dress. You will be seeing things that no one else is going to see – other than the model’s other half of course, and you need to make sure you keep this ‘under your hat’. You also need to make sure that you never discuss any of your models or what happened during the boudoir shoot with any person. Discretion is key and if you cannot be discreet you will not make any money with boudoir photographer.
To be trustworthy
Trust is key in boudoir photography and if you are to win any boudoir shoots and make money it is essential you are trustworthy, and also seen to be trustworthy. If you do not win the trust of your potential models you will never get any work taking boudoir shots. Trust is key, and if you are not trustworthy you will not make any money with boudoir photography.
To be open minded
When taking boudoir shots the model is always right and you should do what they ask of you, and I mean only what you are asked to do. Boudoir photography can be a little racy and you may be asked to take some (what you consider) weird photos therefore you need to be open minded and non-judgemental. If you are easily offended or have strong morals you should not be offering boudoir photography services.
To have the ability to make people feel at ease
Taking your clothes off or dressing in something a little risqué to have your photo taken is a nerve wrecking experience for the model. In order to get the best photos the model will need to relax and behave as naturally as possible, and in order to do this you have to do whatever you can to make the model feel at ease. If you cannot make the models feel at ease you should not be offering boudoir photography services.
In order to be a boudoir photographer you need to be a people person able to get on with everyone. This is a skill you either have or you don’t, and this is not something you can learn. If you are not a people person boudoir photography is not for you and you will not make any serious money offering boudoir photography services. If you are a people person, you are more than halfway to being a successful boudoir photographer, and all you need to do is make sure you have are the other necessary skills and attributes.
Below are some other boudoir photography related articles and posts that may be of interest. All titles are self-explanatory so please feel free to take a look and see what you think.
I have a passion for motor sports photography and there is nothing better than spending a day at a race circuit with a camera taking action photos of racing cars and motorcycles. Many people don’t seem to appreciate the variety of photos you can capture at a race meeting. Yep, there are loads of different types of shot but not all of them will sell and make money.
When I go to the race circuit with my camera I only focus on the money making photos, and as such there are many things I don’t bother taking photos of these days, including:-
The starting grid
Unless you can get right in the middle of the action on the starting gird, i.e. right up close and personal among the racing cars or motorcycles, I don’t think it is worth taking photos of the starting grid.
I have seen many photos of starting grids taken from a long way off using a super zoom lens and they are just pointless. Start line and grid photos taken from a distance don’t show the tension, the anticipation and the adrenaline, and the only waY to capture this is to be in the thick of it. If you can get on the start grid you can capture photos of the drivers behind the wheel mentally preparing for the race ahead, you can capture the mechanics rushing around making the last minute adjustments, you can capture motorcyclists stretching before mounting their sports bikes, you can capture photos of motorcyclists putting their helmets on etc. etc.
Using a super zoom lens the start grid looks nothing more than a car park of nice looking cars or motorbikes liveried up, which in all honesty is pretty un-interesting.
Grid girls and brolly dollies
I understand that motor sports should be glitzy, glamorous and sexy so I totally get the whole lycra clad brolly dollies and grid girls but I can’t see the point in taking photos of them because you won’t make any money from them.
I haven’t always thought like this and when I first started out trying to make money with motor sports photography I used to take a photo of every brolly dolly on the grid of every single race. All of the photos I submitted to various print on demand websites, and they are still on there, and I can honestly say I haven’t sold a copy of a single one of them. Not one.
Motorsports fans and people who buy motor sports prints, posters and cards don’t want photos of lycra clad beauties holding umbrellas or advertising boards they want photos of cars screeching around corners, motorcycles wheeling over the finish line, cars locking all four wheels as they slide in to hairpins and motorcyclists reaching extreme lean angles. These are the sort of photos that sell and these are the ones I focus on when I go to the race circuit. Sure, the brolly dollies look good but no-one wants prints of them.
The sighting lap
Whenever I am out track side to bag a few motor sports photos it never ceases to amaze me how many camera shutters I hear firing off during the sighting lap. The sighting lap is the most boring lap and comprises the drivers and riders getting from the pit lane to line up on the starting grid, and nothing ever happens on it. On the sighting lap the racing drivers and riders don’t do anything dangerous, anything risky or anything interesting at all. You may get a wave or an accidental wheelie but that’s it.
The only thing the sighting lap does is give you the opportunity to bag a tack sharp photo of your favorite racing driver or rider, but it’s going to be a boring one.
It seems that whenever there is a crash everyone with a camera wants to get a few pictures of it, which I think is pretty terrible. At the end of the day you’re there to take photos of the racing action and not of the crashes. I really don’t get the whole “Got to take a picture of a crash” mentality, and it doesn’t matter whether it is two racing cars having a coming together or a motorcyclist having a high side.
I don’t take photos of crashes, especially of motorcyclists and if I see a rider fall or go down I instantly stop snapping. At the end of the day you could potentially be taking photos of someone’s death, and that’s not something I want to have photos of. Even if the rider ends up walking away seemingly unhurt (I say seemingly because all motorbike spills hurt) I still refuse to take photos of the dented bike, the marshals running around, the carnage or the rider walking away looking p***d off.
What really sickens me about motor racing crashes is the amount of people who may miss the actual crash but will photograph the rider laying on the ground, the medics attending the rider, the marshals recovering the motorcycle etc. These kind of photos are awful and if a rider is down you should immediately put the camera down.
The race is where the action is, and also where you are going to bag your top selling motor sports shots, and because of this you should concentrate more on this than anything else. The celebration lap is another opportunity to grab some commercial shots and some of my top sellers have been motorcycles pulling celebration wheelies, doing donuts and also smoking burnouts during the celebration laps.
Street photography is interesting, I can’t deny it, however I think it is an invasive type of photography, and for that reason I tend not to do it as often as I would like. I prefer to be behind the camera rather than in front of it, and I hate having my photo taken without me knowing about it. Because of this I make damn sure (every time) that I ask permission from the person who I would like to be the subject of my photo before raising my camera and taking the shot. I follow by the rule of “If I don’t ask I don’t get” and also “if permission is not granted I move on”.
From what I have read (on photography forums and in magazines) it seems that I am in the minority and most street photographers adopt the paparazzi approach and just go for it. If this is your style, and you feel okay about doing it fine, but there are some people you should never photograph, unless they specifically ask you to.
Snatching shots of specific groups of people without their permission is morally wrong, and in all honesty sick, and those photographers who do steal photos of these groups of people should not be allowed to own a camera. The worst thing is that magazines and online publications use photos of these groups of people and some even encourage photographers to get these portrait shots.
So what are these groups of people you should never photograph unless they ask you to?
Loads of street photographers take photos of homeless people, and I have to say that it is something I just don’t get. What is the fascination of taking photos of homeless people who have nothing, and I mean nothing. These people don’t have money they don’t have food, they have no possessions, heck some of them don’t have any shoes, yet still there are photographers out there (and many of them) who insist of taking a photo of extreme poverty. One of the worst things is these photographers try and “dress up” their photos and say it is part of a theme or a bigger series of photos, which much of the time is utter rubbish. This series/theme crap isn’t the worst thing, and this accolade goes to the fact that the photographers try and make money from selling their images of homeless people. In my mind this is sick, I mean making money from someone else’s poverty and despair. I bet the photographers don’t give the homeless people any of the proceeds from the sales they make out of them. I bet these photographers don’t even give their “homeless model” a cup of tea and a sandwich.
Again I have to ask the question “why do photographers take photos of people less fortunate than themselves?” Taking photos of disabled people basically amounts to mocking them, and then trying to make money from the images is sick, and something I can’t condone. Taking street photos of disabled strangers, unless you ask their permission of course (and how many photographers have the balls to go and ask a disabled person if they can take a photo of them? I am guessing zero, although I would like to be proved wrong on this), simply isn’t on. If I am taking photos and a disabled person comes in to shot I instantly lower my camera and will not raise it to my eye until that person is well out of the way.
As well as physically disabled people (who have not asked you to take a photo) you should never take a photo of a mentally disabled person either. I have heard the argument “I couldn’t tell they had a mental illness” many times from not just photographers but also (and I am ashamed to say) my friends who mocked the mentally disabled person for no reason whatsoever. This argument doesn’t wash with me, and I don’t care how many times you may protest or try to disagree, you can tell when a person has a mental disability. Just look at the way they walk, look at the way they act, listen to the way they talk – these are all clues. Most of the time you don’t even need these clues as it is possible to tell a person has a metal disability just by the look in their eye.