The New York Institute of Photography is one of the world’s largest photography schools and because we are, we often publish fun and useful photography lessons on our photography blog. Please enjoy!
If you’re a portrait photographer and you want to find new clients in your area, Valentine’s Day is a great time to advertise your services. If you don’t already do so, you should start maintaining an organized archive of contact information for every prior (and potential) client you’ve spoken to in the past. That way, around the holidays you can send out an email blast offering some original ideas and price estimations available to plan a fun themed photo shoot for clients, their families and friends.
Pick an exciting subject line like, “Get Creative This Valentine’s Day with a Romantic Portrait Session!” Then you can detail price offers, location suggestions and pose options within the body of the email. Try to send this out a few weeks before the holiday so you can book a handful of clients leading up to the day itself. If you’ve already taken couples portraits in the past, include some of those in the email to give clients a look at your compositional style.
On the day of the shoot itself, here are a few tips we find especially helpful when it comes to shooting romantic portraits:
- Get to Know the Couple: This should be a crucial part of the consultation conversation. Once a client reaches out to you and books a session, ask to schedule a quick phone call beforehand. Ask them about how they met, what their hobbies are, what interests they share, their favorite foods, guilty pleasure TV shows- anything to get a better idea of their dynamic and what makes them who they are as a pair. That way, when it comes to planning location ideas or props, you’ll have some inspiration. Did the couple mention that they met in a local bookstore? Consider taking some fun shots there.
- Let them Warm-Up: Don’t expect the best shots to come right away. Even the most practiced models usually take some time to warm up to the camera. Encourage the subjects to be themselves and relax. If you’re doing an on-location shoot of the pair baking a dessert together for example, getting started just tell them to go about their business as if you aren’t even there.
- Get Creative with Location-Just like we mentioned in Tip #1, location can make or break the creativity and excitement of the shoot. Although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with in-studio shots of your subjects, when it comes to something as personal as a couple’s portfolio, it’s important for your shots to tell some type of story about the two people and their relationship. By choosing a meaningful location and giving context via background and props, you’re more likely to achieve this element of added meaningfulness. Check out this article for tips on shooting portraits on locationfor some advice.
- Be Careful with Lighting-Harsh lighting might not be the best pick if you’re going for a romantic mood. To achieve something a little softer, try to book your shoots early in the morning or later in the afternoon when the lighting is naturally gentle. If you’re stuck working under darker lighting depending on the time of day or a given location, try using your flash with bounce. Check out this tutorial on how to bounce your flash for more advice on this technique.
- Maintain the Mood-Some couples will be especially nervous and need more encouragement than others. This is an important part of your job. No matter what’s going on behind the lens, always continue to offer positive reinforcement and encouragement to the couple. Any necessary adjustments should be voiced as positive suggestions, not criticism. Continue to compliment them and tell them how incredible the photos are looking on your end. The more they feel like they’re doing a great job, the more relaxed they’ll be. The more relaxed they are, the more likely the shots will turn out their best.