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Express Yourself In Your Branded Lifestyle Portrait Session!!!

When I first started shooting portraits about 10 years ago, my primary goal - okay, my only goal - was to shoot “pretty” pictures and inspire happiness in my subjects as they reviewed the images.  

My time behind the camera was spent less on directing the subject, less on their comfortability and ease, and more about technical considerations (lighting, camera settings, focal length, etc.), focusing solely on positioning the subject in his or her best light, which, of course, is a very important aspect to any portrait shoot, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

Ah, the good ol’ days when I was figuring this whole portrait photography game out, :)

Capturing flattering portraits is not substantial enough for thought leaders and high-level entrepreneurs who seek to gain massive visibility for their business and brand.  In fact, it would be irresponsible on my part as a professional, lifestyle portrait photographer to focus exclusively on capturing aesthetically pleasing images.  

As I mention to my clients, flattering portraits are not the primary objective — it’s merely the starting point.  

Once we’ve established their good side, the true goal is to capture a dynamic range of unique expressions, supported by strong body posture and dynamic head angles, that span the emotional spectrum, in order to build a diverse image library of branded portraits.  

When paired with context-appropriate captions that present informational, entertaining and inspirational aspects of their brand identity, they are able to present authentic and attention-grabbing content to their followers.  

For example, let’s say you wanted to post a telling statistic about solopreneurs closing up shop within the first three years to inspire your followers to stop in their tracks to reflect on where they are with their businesses, what type of portrait would illustrate this type of copy?

  • A hysterically laughing expression?  
  • A playful eye wink to the camera?
  • A prideful glare into the camera?  

Nope, none of those.  How about something like this?

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!!

Now, let's take a look at fool-proof strategies to capture that wide spectrum of expression throughout your next, branded portrait session:

fire off multiple expressions in Each LOCATION

One of the worst approaches you can employ during your session is to park yourself in a chair or couch, stare directly into the camera, and have the photographer shoot you not moving, not reacting, doing your best statue impression.  The result — every photo in that round looks the same, save for a couple stray hairs moving on your head in a couple frames.  Sounds useful, wouldn't it?  

If you do this throughout every location change during your session, you are wasting your time and money, because once you post an image from each location on your social feed, the rest of those images are useless. So yeah, please don't do that, :)

Long story short, don't be lazy!  Move around, get comfortable, have some images taken in one pose, and then adjust, just like my client, Seema Alexander, did during this portion of her portrait session.  Take direction from your photographer and run with it! Stay fluid and loose, move your head around and look in different directions — at the camera, away, down, etc.  Those head gestures and facial expression adjustments will result in a goldmine of potential informative, entertaining and inspiring content. Who knows, might be fun, too!

In addition to noticing how each of these portraits flatter Seema's appearance, do you also notice how each sends a clearly unique message to the viewer through the emotional range of her expressions punctuated by her body posture?

From candid laughter and deep reflection to focused and direct, these three images are but a small sampling of the wider range of emotional expressions we captured during the course of her session.

RINSE AND REPEAT IN EACH LOCATION

The work, of course, doesn't stop with one location.  

When moving to the next location, it's vital to do the same thing over again.  By creating repetitive expressions — happy, pensive, inquisitive, inspired, motivated, reflective, etc. — in different locations, your image library will easily be able to handle the demand for daily posting while avoiding the unenviable position of having to use the same portraits more than once...ugh, blasphemy!!!

Also, by changing locations, like I did during my session with Andy Weinstein, a smile portrait captured on the couch and a smile portrait taken outside will feel and look completely different to the viewer, even though it's the same expression.  Wearing a different outfit helps with this, as well (I will discuss more about clothing in a future post).

Magical, isn't it?

THE HELL WITH IT, WHO NEEDS A LOCATION??

One of the easiest and fastest ways to collect diverse expressions in one fell swoop is to locate a blank wall (or a roll of your photographer's seamless paper), and fire off a ton of shots in different outfits while changing your expression throughout.  

I capture these images during each session for a variety of reasons, but, mainly because when the background is eliminated, the focus of the viewer gravitates naturally to the subject's expression, like in these images of Pia Silva.  

When you eliminate all distractions, the expressions really pop, so it's important to leverage this scenario as much as possible. 

In addition to the expression factor, I urge my clients to include their captions and branding materials directly onto these images in the negative, white space. By merging the expression and the story, it creates a more impactful, and effective, piece of content.

 

Every step of the session needs to be geared at capturing a diverse range of emotional expressions, while making sure the images are flattering and accentuate the messaging that your brand needs in order to present you as the rockstar thought leader or entrepreneur that you are.

Plan ahead of your portrait session by discussing these parameters with your photographer so that your portrait library works for you, and not the other way around.

How does your image library measure up? time to step up your portrait game to achieve this diversity? Wanna see how I can help get your brand the visibility it needs to get to that next level?

Click here to set up your complimentary, 20-minute consultation to talk about it!