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03-07-2012, 10:17 AM   #1
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Portrait - hiring a pro...maybe?

Hello all,

I mostly shoot landscape and some macros but have very little experience with portraiture. My wife needs a portrait (indoor or outdoor) shot for her business and right now I’m thinking of trying it myself. I have been researching online as well as here in the forum for portrait styles, techniques/approach and willing to try/learn. I have a K-x and a few lenses but I think the A-50mm f1.7 would do the job. However, should we decide to go ahead for a “pro”, can anyone with experience in hiring a pro or a pro themselves give me an idea how much portraits usually cost? There is one locally but for around $500! (That’s half a K-5). Any tips on what we should be aware of when looking for a pro? Last time we hired a pro (I’ll never hire him again) was over a decade ago for our wedding.

Cheers all!

03-07-2012, 10:54 AM   #2
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Is it for your wife's business, that she runs/owns, or a company that your wife works at who need a portrait done. If it's the latter, I'd be asking why the hell you need to provide your own!

If you have the time I guess there's no harm in trying your own, but remember it's more than just the lens. To make it look professional you need the right lighting set-up, learn how to work with the light, how to pose a subject to get the right message across, have the backdrops/location, and know what to do with the image for whatever media it's being used in. If it's for something like an 'about-page' style little image for a website then I'd say just have a go at it yourself. If it's for print work, or being used as a main image on a company website etc, then I'd get a pro.

Think about how much money that image/print/site is going to bring into the business, and then budget around that. Take a look at the photographers portfolio to make sure it's the right look you're after, then go from there.
03-07-2012, 11:00 AM   #3
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I would suggest shooting it yourself.

I would place your wife near an open window or door so the light is somewhat soft and directional. The wall behind her should be dark, or at least uncluttered. Prop up or hang some white foam-core board or bed sheet as a reflector near the shadow side.
03-07-2012, 11:33 AM   #4
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I just did a shot for a client the other day - and i came in to his office finding out that while clean and tidy, it wasnt photogenic. (The office). The only angle from which I could take a picture from; had cluttered background. (walls, wall elements, etc). There was no space to give it justice.
Then, since it was for a website, and it had to be laid out correctly, the only angle they wanted was from the one that I couldnt take because of the office limitation. So, i had to work with lots of photoshop to open up the space...and effectively enlarging the background windows to twice its size.

Basically, if its for her own business, I'd say at least, give it a try to do it yourself. It will save you money, of course, and if nothing else, you'll know what the pro who comes in to the room will have to face. (And may be able to reorganize the furnitures to suit). Besides, i guess by doing it yourself you are not time limited.
If you are putting it on the website - make sure you tell the photographer where you want the picture, and if there is a size limitation you need it to be. (The website I was providing the photo for had a landscape orientation, and the client was to fill only one side of the photo...completely breaking rule of thirds or any other normal composition). This was very specific, and all the picture I would have come back with without this knowledge would have been a standard portrait.

If you do hire a pro, double check their portfolio. And even if its good, see if it will work with what you have in mind for your web design. Make sure to communicate what you need, so you are not disappointed. And, if you just want a nice portrait in his studio, i think you'd be able to find cheaper rates.

03-07-2012, 01:49 PM   #5
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what type of business is she trying to get a photo for?
I would get some type of a very simple prop, put her near a window (north facing best, but any window without direct sun will do) and shoot away, then post some here and we can help CC and or Photoshop the photo to help get a pro look. You have nothing to loose and everything to gain (saving $)
If you need any tips first, please let us know.

good luck
03-07-2012, 02:56 PM   #6
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Here is a tutorial on using window light for portraits. It will give a couple of things to think about.

Portraits By Window Light

03-07-2012, 08:33 PM   #7
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Original Poster
Thank you very much for all the input. After reading through your responses I’m now more inclined to doing it myself.

Tom Woj - it will be for a website she is currently developing. It’s the lighting that will be a challenge but I'm willing to learn.

My wife is a writer and these photos are her author headshots which will be used on the site and for promotional materials. Browsing through dozens of samples online we actually did a few rudimentary test shots just to get an idea of the composition. Based on the results we’ve gotten I feel confident we can get eventually get a “winner”.

D4rknezz – as you pointed out, I wouldn’t be time limited. My wife was a marketing manager for a fairly large medical manufacturer back in the west and has dealt with pro photographers and videographers alike. (I’ve joked around about her considering the Pentax job opening in Denver but she’s done with the corporate bs). Believe me, when she interviews potential candidates, she interviews……like they’re about to get fired!

I like the idea of the window lighting Slip and SpecialK had suggested and come to think of it we do have white curtains that’ll be good for diffusing light. Thanks for the link – atupdate!

Cheers to all for the much appreciated tips!

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