4 Common Lighting Styles to Get the Perfect Portrait

When you begin doing portrait lighting for the first time, the general advice you get is to put your light at 45º to your subject, and aim it down at 45º. It’s a quick way to get something reasonably good, without a lot of understanding. With a little more knowledge, you can make better lighting decisions, and get more dramatic images.

4 Common Lighting Styles to Get the Perfect Portrait

Light has four main properties:

  1. Quantity
  2. Quality
  3. Color
  4. Direction

In this article, we’re looking at direction of light only. If you look at the work of the Masters in painting, you’ll notice that they go to great pains to create light and shadow through their brush strokes. You can of course translate these to your own lighting. So let’s look at the different portrait lighting styles or patterns you can use.

To be able to see these patterns, your subject should be facing the camera. The key to seeing what’s happening is to pay attention to what the shadow is doing, especially the nose shadow.

Short Lighting with a Butterfly pattern.

Short lighting style

For this setup, I’ve used an Elinchrom BXR500 with a 44cm white beauty dish. The deflector is translucent, and I’ve added a grid to control the spill of the light. The Camera was a Fujifilm X-T10 with a Fujinon 18-55 lens.

The Portrait Lighting Styles

1. Butterfly Lighting

Butterfly lighting refers to the shape of the shadow under the nose that this pattern creates. It’s meant to look like a butterfly in flight, viewed from straight on. It’s also called Paramount lighting when used with guys to sound more masculine. If you look at the work of 30s and 40s Hollywood photographers like George Hurrell, you’ll see this lighting style in operation.

Classical Lighting Patterns 01

The basic butterfly portrait lighting, with no reflector.

First you should place your light on a boom stand, and position it so it creates a line between you, the light, and your subject. Your light should be high enough to create the butterfly shadow. If it’s too low, you won’t get a shadow and the light will be too flat. If it’s too high, you’ll have the nose shadow will cut into the lip.

As you look into the eyes of your subject, make sure you can see a reflection of your light. This reflection is called a catchlight, and helps give life to the eyes. If you cannot see the catchlight, lower your light a bit.

Classical Lighting Patterns 02

The basic butterfly portrait lighting, with silver reflector.

With Butterfly Lighting, it’s common practice to put a reflector (or even another light at lower power) underneath the chin to bounce light back up. This helps soften the look, and reduces the shadows caused by your light position. You’re not trying to overpower the light from above, as doing this will cast shadow upwards on the face, which isn’t particularly flattering.

Classical Lighting Patterns 03

Behind the scenes shot of the basic butterfly lighting, with a reflector.

2. Loop Lighting

For Loop Lighting, you’re looking for a loop shaped nose shadow. Move your light to the left, or light from the centre. You’ll see the shadow change shape. With Loop Lighting, the nose shadow shouldn’t touch the shadow side of the cheek.

Classical Lighting Patterns 04

Loop Lighting

You should aim to have the bottom of the nose shadow about halfway between the lip and the nose in position. With Loop lighting, you’ve got two main options for filling in shadows. You can use a reflector, or a second light from the opposite side of the face as the key light, or you can use an on axis (behind the camera) fill light (like a ring light or an Octabox).

3. Rembrandt Lighting

If you move the key light around a farther, the nose shadow will meet the cheek. Some refer to this as closed loop lighting, with the normal Loop Lighting being referred to as open loop lighting. From a technical standpoint, Rembrandt Lighting usually has a higher light position than closed loop lighting, but for most the term Rembrandt refers to any light that creates a triangle of light below the eye opposite the light source.

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Rembrandt Lighting

You can probably guess that the name is based on the work of the painter Rembrandt. A lot of his portraits were painted while the subject was lit from a skylight or high window, giving that famous look.

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Behind the scenes making a Rembrandt Lighting.

4. Split Lighting

You’ve moved the light slowly from straight on, and your final light style is when the light is perpendicular to the camera. You’re lighting only one half of the face. One of the most famous uses of this is The Beatles album ‘With The Beatles’, where all four members are split lit. You should only be able to see one eye in the shot for this pattern (the other will be in shadow).

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Split Lighting.

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Behind the scenes for Split Lighting.

Broad and Short Lighting

To show how the patterns work, you’ve shot straight on to your subject. In real life this is only one view that you’d capture. By turning the face to the side you get even more options. When the face is at an angle, there are two parts of the face visible, the broad side, and the short side. The broad side is the one nearest you, from the ear to the nose. The short side is the small bit of the side facing away from you, that you can actually see.

By aiming the light at the broad side of the face, you see the face in detail, with very little shadow. On the other hand, if you light the short side of the face, you get more shadow. These lighting positions are referred to as Broad and Short Lighting respectively.

You can use Short Light to flatter heavier subjects, as the shadow tends to hide weight in the face. Broad lighting is better for thinner people, and is often used in fashion. For the Short Light example, the light was in the same position as our Split Lighting, the model has just been turned towards the light. For Broad Lighting, you can have it any where in front, though for this example, it was off to camera right.

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Broad Lighting (main light is to camera right).

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Short Lighting (main light is to camera left, closer to the background than the subject).

Creating Drama

The trick to creating drama is to use shadow effectively. For this reason Short Lighting is the best option. You can use each pattern in a short light fashion.

Remember at the start, you were told to pay attention to the nose shadow? For Butterfly, you’re still looking for the butterfly shadow. The light will be directly in front of your subject’s nose to get this. As you move the light away, towards Loop position, it’ll start to become more dramatic. You can even do a Rembrandt portrait for really dramatic effect.

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Rembrandt Lighting, Short lit with no fill.

Classical Lighting Patterns 12

Rembrandt Lighting, Short lit with silver reflector fill.

So that’s how to use common portrait lighting styles or patterns. You should get familiar with them, and as you look at magazines and online, you’ll start to see them in use.

Examples of Portait Lighting in photos

Classical Lighting Patterns 16

Short Lit Loop Light

Classical Lighting Patterns 14

Split Lighting


Butterfly Lighting

Short Lighting with a Butterfly pattern.

Short Lighting with a Butterfly pattern.

The post 4 Common Lighting Styles to Get the Perfect Portrait by Sean McCormack appeared first on Digital Photography School.

5 Things Newbies Should Know About Getting Started in Photography

Getting started in photography can be quite scary. We all start by investing in a DSLR, and think we are going to take amazing images. In reality it is a bit more difficult, because if it was easy… well everybody would sell prints, quit their day job, and live off photography.

Just like any art, photography has to be learned, and practiced – a lot. It is a trial and error process, we all start at the bottom and build our way up.

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If your images do not look like you imagined them, then try a different approach. Just do something. Einstein said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

#1 – Gather information and knowledge

Photography is the best hobby you could have, but it is a lot of hard work. I personally don’t believe in talent. The first tip I can give you is to absorb as much information as possible. How do you do that ? Well you have so many free resources on the internet, the only need to take advantage of it. Since you are reading this, then you’re on the right track.

By resources, I mean articles online, magazines, and YouTube tutorials. You can learn so much in less than 30 minutes. One other tip I can also give is to check multiple resources for the same topic.

5 tips photography 2

Read photography magazines. They have amazing stories and tutorials.

For example you want to learn how take portraits – don’t read or watch only one tutorial. The more you research, the more you will learn, because sometimes one article won’t give you all the answers to your questions, but another article will.

You should also anticipate. What I mean by that, is to learn about it, before trying to do something.

For example, say you want to buy a new DSLR. You should learn how to use it before you actually buy it, read reviews and tutorials. If you are planning a trip to the sea, then learn seascape photography before travelling.

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Photography is spending hours and hours on research.

#2 – Try all kinds of photography

This brings me to my second tip: don’t focus on only one type of photography. Of course, if you like portrait photography then do that. What I’m trying to say, is that you should explore all the possibilities, before focusing on only one type of photography. Try to add variation by learning about macro photography, landscapes, portraits, wildlife, etc.

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Try super sports car photography. It’s so fun, just protect your ears.

You may be surprised by the results you get, and if you never try, you will never know if you actually like photographing birds or not. From my experience, the more you learn, the more you’ll be able to do things. It’s better knowing how to do five things than only one. Starting photography and only wanting to take portraits is not the right mindset. It’s just like food, if you don’t try new food, you will never know if you like it or not.

#3 – Photography is an investment

The third thing you should know is that photography is a big investment. You will need to buy lenses, camera bodies, tripods, and filters, which will end up being quite expensive. If you are not smart with your decisions, then your bank account can end up in tears.

It may seem confusing when I tell you to try different types of photography, but then warn you about buying too much gear. If you want to try macro photography, don’t buy a macro lens right away. Just buy extension tubes (or close-up filters) until you know if you are serious about macro. They cost a lot less, and increase your focusing distance dramatically.

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A very inexpensive $30 ND Filter.

For filters, you can buy $20 Neutral Density filters for your landscape photography. Of course they won’t have the same quality as the professional ones, but it’s a good place to start.

I started photography with a phone, then moved up to an entry level DSLR, and now I own a full frame camera. But, it took me four years to go from my phone to full frame, so don’t go out and buy the best DSLR ever, find something that will suit where are you starting first.

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Phone photography

Make smart decisions, a normal kit lens is enough to get started in landscape photography.

#4 – Post-processing is a good thing

The fourth tip is about post-processing. Most beginner photographers underestimate the power of post-processing. It can make or break an image, that’s why my first point is important. You have to learn and fail in order to succeed – once you learn how to master software like Lightroom and Photoshop, your photography will become more like a process, because you will automatically think about post-production.

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For post-production, I also recommend learning about the same topic from different sources. There are a lot of different ways to do the same thing, you just have to find which way works the best for you. It doesn’t matter how you do it, the important thing is the end result.

For example, for dodging and burning an image I prefer using a curves layer with a mask, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to dodge and burn using grey layers.

Post-production can be quite scary because there are so many tools, but once you master a certain software, you will be able to work on your worst shots and get the best out of them.

I would say that post-production is almost indispensable. There are a lot of photographers who want natural photography, but that doesn’t exist. Your colours will get interpreted anyway, it’s up to you to decide if you want your camera to do it automatically, or if you want to take control over everything.

5 tips photography 9

Simple snapshot with my own interpretation of colors.

#5 – Good photographers create depth in their images

The last thing you should know is that photography is all about creating depth. There are many ways of creating depth; you can do it with light and contrast, colours, movement, a solid composition, and with depth of field.

You should aim to have at least one of these elements in your images. If you can mix all these elements in one image, then your result will be even better.

With light and contrast you can play around with shadows, and dodging a burning. The main purpose is to have uneven lighting on purpose – try to avoid flat lighting. Some area should be lighter than others, and some darker. You also want to know which lighting conditions will give you the best results. For example, if you like shooting landscapes then you will want to know that you get the best light during the magic hour (blue hour).


Composition is the most important thing, try to use a foreground, middle ground and a background. The rule of thirds is also really useful to frame your subject in a pleasing way.

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With colours, the main purpose is to have tones that go together. Always look at your colour palette and see what works best. This is quite difficult to do, but one tip I can give you, is that when the colours do not look good, convert your image to black and white.

For movement, try long exposures, they are a good way to create a surreal images.

The last thing is depth of field. This is very important if you’re taking portraits, the amount of background blur can completely change an image. If you want to learn about it here’s another article I wrote: How to Achieve Background Blur or Bokeh where I explain three easy ways to achieve a nice bokeh.



So if you’re just getting into photography, consider these five things as you begin your journey. Learn everything you can from multiple sources, try different kinds of photography to see what you like, don’t get caught in gear envy, don’t be afraid of post-processing and remember to add depth to make more interesting images.

Are you further along in photography? What other advice would you offer to new photographers? Please share in the comments below.

The post 5 Things Newbies Should Know About Getting Started in Photography by Yacine Bessekhouad appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Tips for Doing City Photography from Above

Many cities have places with great panoramic views of the city vistas from above. For example, in the U.S., New York has the top of the Empire State Building or Rockefeller Center. Similarly, Chicago has observation decks in both the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and the Hancock Building. In Europe, there are great views of Paris from Montparnasse Tower. You can capture London from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral, or now the observation deck of the Shard (the new tallest building in London), and the list goes on.

Madrid, Spain, from the Circulo des Bellas Artes

The Gran Via in Madrid, Spain, from the Circulo des Bellas Artes

But these shots present certain challenges. Often tripods are not allowed. Sometimes you have to shoot through glass. And when should you go? What settings should you use? In this article, we’ll work through these issues so you can get great shots from these city overlooks.

What? I Can’t Use My Tripod?

Sometimes you are allowed to use a tripod, and sometimes not. Each building has its own rules. To make things even more interesting, some buildings seem to have different rules depending on when you visit (or perhaps the mood of the security guards). So you will need to be prepared to shoot without a tripod.

If you go up the building in the middle of the day, that might not matter very much. There will be enough light to support a fast shutter speed, and you can get away with hand holding. But if you are shooting in dim light or at night, you will want to use a longer shutter speed. That will require some sort of stabilization.

Paris from the Eiffel Tower

Paris from the Eiffel Tower

In almost every case, you will find something available at the top of the building to support your camera. Sometimes you have to resort to using the the floor (which can work if you press your lens up against the window), but often there is some sort of shelf to use. Many buildings have plexiglass panels at the top, with small gaps between them, and you can hold your camera against the sides of the panels to steady it.

Shooting Through Glass

Oftentimes, you are photographing from an enclosed structure surrounded by glass. That means reflections are going to be a problem. I wish there was a magic bullet to solve this problem, but there isn’t. I do have a few tips to help you minimize the reflections though.

Chicago from the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower)

Chicago from the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower)

Before resorting to that, see if there is any way to shoot unobstructed. As mentioned above, some buildings have plexiglass panels on top. There are often carve-outs in the panels that you can shoot through, which you should definitely use. If not, check to see if you can shoot between the panels. That will avoid the whole issue with reflections.

If not, you are going to need to take steps to minimize reflections. Let’s start with one that should be obvious (but I always see people doing it). Do not use your camera’s flash. First of all, the flash is useless in this situation. Everything will be too far away for the flash to have any effect. More importantly, the flash will cause reflections and glare in the glass.

Next, hold your camera directly up against the glass. This will minimize reflections. In addition, make sure your point of focus is set far away from you and that your camera is not trying to focus on the reflections.

Panama City, Panama from the Intercontinental Hotel (shot through glass)

Panama City, Panama from the Intercontinental Hotel (shot through glass)


If you are on your own (like in a hotel room or somewhere you can set up), then make sure all the inside lights are off, and use the curtains to block any light coming from the room. Some photographers hold a black cloth against the window with a hole cut in the center to shoot through. If you have the opportunity and time to prepare, that is the best option.

Usually, you will find yourself in a public place where such steps are not possible. In that case, just use your body or hand to block any areas of glare or bright light.

After that, just take a few pictures and see if there are any reflections in the final result. Zoom in on your LCD to take a close look. If you find any reflections or glare, just adjust your position slightly to try to get it out and shoot again. You would also try a polarizing filter.

London from the top of St. Paul's Cathedral

London from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral

What Camera Settings Should I Use?

Your exposure settings will depend on how much light is available at the time you are shooting. While I obviously cannot give you exact exposure settings, I can give you a few ideas to maximize your light and get the best exposure.

First and foremost, remember that you don’t need to use a small aperture for these shots because you do not need a deep depth of field. Your focus will be set at infinity. Nothing in your shot will be within 50 feet/15 meters of you. Too see this for yourself, take a look at the distance scale on the top of your lens (assuming it has one). It will show you that everything farther than about 30 feet/10 meters is set at infinity (in fact, the focus will be at infinity even sooner for wide angle lenses). There will not be a wide range of distances in your shot that require a deep depth of field. Therefore, if you find yourself in need of more light to create your exposure, widening the aperture is a good place to start.

Chicago from the Hancock Building

Chicago from the Hancock Building

Your other two exposure settings (shutter speed and ISO) will depend entirely on whether you can use a tripod. If you cannot use a tripod, raise the ISO until your shutter speed is fast enough to hand hold. Remember you can cheat a little bit and use a slower shutter speed than usual by propping your camera on something. But blur from movement during the exposure will ruin the picture. Remember that digital noise can be fixed in post-processing, but camera shake cannot. Raise the ISO as much as you need to get a supportable shutter speed.

If a tripod is allowed, things are much easier when it comes to exposure settings. You can use as slow a shutter speed as you want. That will also allow you to reduce the ISO, and use a smaller aperture as well. In fact, you may want to keep the the ISO low and the aperture small to force the camera to use a long shutter speed. That will capture traffic trails, create some movement in the clouds, and other effects.

New York, from Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock)

New York, from Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock)

Finally, consider bracketing your photos, especially if you are shooting at night. The scene before you will contain bright lights and dark portions. This will challenge your camera’s dynamic range. Even if you will never use any sort of blending or HDR, you might be pleasantly surprised by the overexposed or underexposed images.

Making a Composition from a Jumble of Buildings

When you are up high in a building overlooking the city, you will have a great view, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a great picture. The key to success is creating a composition out of what is before you, in other words to generally find a center of interest. That is, find something to key on that will anchor the picture. Sometimes it is obvious – like when you are staring at the Empire State Building or the Eiffel Tower – but other times it isn’t. You’ll just have to find something to center your picture on. It could be a building that stands out, perhaps a bridge, or even a leading line.

In doing so, don’t overlook the usual compositional rules. Start with the Rule of Thirds. Put your horizon line on either the top third or the bottom third. After that, you might consider placing an important, or prominent, feature on one of the vertical third lines.

Paris from the Montparnasse Tower

Paris from the Montparnasse Tower

Just these two concepts – ensuring you have a center of interest and following the Rule of Thirds – will go a long way to ensuring success. After that, you can find lines, shapes, and forms to work around. Experiment with different focal lengths and angles. Remember that nothing is moving so you can keep experimenting all you want.

When to Go

Deciding when to go capture you city view from above will have more to do with how the pictures turn out, than anything else you do. Avoid going in the middle of the day. Travel schedules don’t always allow that, but that is the worst time for these pictures.

If you are going to a public observation deck, when you can go will be limited by the opening hours of the building. They are generally not open early enough for sunrise, so that won’t be an option. Almost all locations are open for sunset and a few hours of darkness, so that is often an option.

London from the tower of Westminster Cathedral

London from the tower of Westminster Cathedral

The best time to go is just before sunset. You will have the best of all worlds with one ticket. You can capture the sunset and twilight. After that, just wait around for a little while for some night shots.

But in any case, go. It is an easy way to get great shots of whatever city you happen to be visiting. Get up high and capture the city from above.

The post Tips for Doing City Photography from Above by Jim Hamel appeared first on Digital Photography School.

4 Tips to Creating More Unique Images

You can call it the “Intelligent Eye”. The ability of you, the photographer, to see something unique, unusual or comical in your surroundings, then have the awareness to capture it for storytelling. With practice, you can develop the skill of capturing those interesting moments or opportunities, that many would miss or otherwise ignore. As a result, your photography will stand out from the rest because it will be distinctive and specific to your own personal experience. It’s good to be different! Read on to get tips for creating more unique images.

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Okay, so how do you achieve, or improve this ability to see unique things, and all of the interesting opportunities in your environment?

TIP #1 – Practice Observing

Practice observing. To be great at just about anything requires practice, or actually doing that thing. Yes, some people have natural talents and they don’t require extensive practice, but for others, myself included, practice is the best way to improve.

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Take some time, daily if you can, and throw yourself into a busy street (not literally!) and observe. Walk slowly, or sit, and simply observe your environment. Notice the colours, shadows, words, and the things people do. People do the most fascinating things if you pay attention.

My only gripe is people staring at their smart phones, and yes, I can be guilty of that at times too. Imagine all of the interesting things people could be doing, if only they put down their phones. Of course, they may say the same thing about us standing there with our cameras.

Focus on the smallest of details. Maybe you notice someone walking across the street without shoes, or someone with interesting hair or clothes, or maybe there is nothing interesting and that’s okay too. Move on, remain aware of your environment, and keep practicing the skill of observation. Over time, you will begin to notice more opportunities for some great photographs, and you’ll make unique images.

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TIP#2 – Practice Without a Camera

More practice. Okay, this may seem redundant, but I’m talking about practice without a camera. You can practice this skill at any time, no matter where you are in the world, or what you are doing. Carefully observe and study your environment.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen something clever or interesting, and got a little frustrated because I didn’t have a camera. You must begin to make a habit out of always observing, seeking out the unusual, studying the world and people around you.

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Keep in mind, the greatest artists become obsessed with their work, so make it a habit to always be focused on your skill of seeing, with or without a camera. Over time, you will be amazed at how many things you would have missed or ignored without this improved skill.

TIP #3 – Be Different

It’s good to be different. Share your work, and enjoy the works of others, but please, don’t become overly concerned about how many likes or hearts or comments you get. It’s not important! You can conform, and begin to manipulate your work to become popular and fit with what is expected, or you can be original and create something unique to your own personal experience and creative spirit.

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There are some great online communities, but it’s disappointing to see so many works of art looking the same, lacking originality. Yes, the basics of post-processing are important, but it will be difficult for you to stand out from the crowd if your artwork looks the same as every other artist.

Capturing your unique experience and environment will help you stand out. You may or may not become famous, but at least you had the courage to be different, to tap into your own unique creative abilities. Finally, embrace your uniqueness, and remember that life is complex and messy, so it’s okay to create photographs not in line with what is expected. Focus on tapping into your personal and unique creative spirit.

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TIP #4 – Be Present

This is the most important tip. Enjoy living and creating in the present moment as much as possible. Whether you are in the field, in a darkroom, or behind a computer – get lost in the moment, focus on your environment and enjoy the experience of life and witnessing the world as it unfolds.

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Do you have any other tips for finding and creating more unique images? Please share in the comments below.

The post 4 Tips to Creating More Unique Images by Jason Lowry appeared first on Digital Photography School.

3 Tough Photography Client Questions and How to Answer Them

Ah yes, the priceless questions photographers get from their clients. If your work involves human subjects, you may occasionally feel that you’re locked in the eternal struggle of staying true to your vision, while still making your clients happy. Any of these photography client questions sound familiar:

  • Can we have all the RAW files?
  • Wouldn’t a jumping shot near this cliché tourist destination be awesome?
  • Can’t you just fix this in Photoshop?


While it may feel like you can only have either one or the other, I’m convinced you can have it both ways: happy, well-served clients, and a strong standard for how you shoot and share your own work. Here’s how we tackle the three tough client questions we get most often:

1 – Can you to deliver all the RAW files in the final package?

I KNOW, I KNOW, when you get this question your first instinct may be to delete their email and never respond again (or am I the only dramatic one?). But this one is an easy one to tease apart. The goal here is to get to the bottom of what the client really wants. So, before you launch into your response, ask them leading questions to find out real the root of the issue.


The first possibility is one of sheer numbers: Do they fear that they won’t get enough images? Are they hoping to go through them to make sure that you really did select the best ones for them? This is the time to gently explain your process to them. Explain ow you carefully cull, deliver only the best image, and spare them the misery of pawing through all the shots of their double chin or half-closed eyes.

Client education is key

Conversely, they might not even know what a RAW file actually is. Some clients think that RAW is a synonym for unedited, and want to try out their own iPhoto tricks on their images later. Now’s the time to lay down some education about the advanced programs that can open RAW files, including the fact that they require quite a bit of training to use them correctly. Normally that’s more information than the average client has ever gotten about photo editing, and they are able to reframe their question to express their needs more specifically.


This is also a good time to throw out the old “It’s industry standard to not provide RAW files, so that we photographers can provide you with the exact final product that is worthy of your time.” They wouldn’t walk into a chef’s kitchen and judge their work based on the raw meat in the fridge, the same holds true for their photographer.

Once you hear their concerns, and educate them through your process in a professional and kind way, most sane clients realize that asking for the RAW files just isn’t realistic.

2 – Wouldn’t this jumping shot in front of the Space Needle be awesome?


Okay, the late 90s jumping shots aren’t our bag either (if it is yours though, I hope the clients who ask for this are finding you!). However, we make it a firm policy to never say no to a client’s idea. Not only does it throw off the energy of the shoot, it makes the client feel that they are separated from the process of creating images; that their ideas aren’t as good as the professionals. In short, it makes them feel bad, and a subject who feels bad will never create the bomb images you want.

Always say yes client ideas

We always say yes if a client has an idea for an image that we aren’t particularly into. It lets them know they’re an integral part of the process, and encourages everyone to get creative with the shoot. Not only that, but sometimes we think a particular pose or scene isn’t going to look good, and it ends up being an awesome idea that we never would have come up with ourselves. That kind of discovery is golden. Never think that your style is so entrenched that you can’t hear new ideas, and always be ready to learn and experiment when you have clients who are in it with you.


All that being said, sometimes you do end up with shots that are just not you, not your look, and not something you necessarily want to represent you. Guess what? You get to choose what you share, how you blog, what your social media will show off, and how you want your portfolio to look. Deliver the client’s images with a smile, make the client happy, and share the ones you love on your own pages. There’s no rule that you have to share every image from a shoot. Select your favorites and move along.

3 – Can’t you just fix this in Photoshop?

I will be the first to admit that I’m abnormally flattered when people assume that I’m a Photoshop wizard, just because I’m the photographer. Thanks for the vote of confidence, guys.


However, the reality is that I am fairly abysmal at it. I would rather spend my time out shooting, than inside glued to my computer, making people look ten pounds thinner, or removing the billboard from behind the venue. Just no thank you.

So when the Photoshop question comes up, I try to manage of expectations ahead of time, as much as possible. When the parent at a wedding asks very seriously if you’ll make them look thinner, I respond with something like, “There’s absolutely no need for Photoshop on a perfect day like today. Everyone here loves you and wants to keep you just as you are. Also, no.”

If there’s an object that could easily be moved from a scene (garbage cans, a sign, trash) then I make a point to move them before shooting, so the client is aware that not everything is post-production magic.

Follow this general rule of thumb


Our general policy for retouching in Lightroom is that if something will not be there in two weeks (e.g. a bruise, zit, etc.) we’ll do a light erase, no problem. If there are larger things that the client requests be handled in Photshop, like the mother of the groom who insisted that I edit all the photos of her scowling in the background (you can’t make this stuff up) we let them know individually that we do have a per-image rate for Photoshopping. If they want to go ahead with it, fine by me, but it’s a friendly reminder to clients that Photoshop isn’t a magic button that photographers press behind the scenes to turn every Furbie into a Victoria’s Secret model.

Plan moving forward

The moral of the story is to be kind, ask questions, and get to the bottom of what your clients really want when they ask you these dreaded things.

Then let me know in the comments below. What questions do you dread? How do you respond to them? I’d love to hear how you tackle the tough ones.

The post 3 Tough Photography Client Questions and How to Answer Them by Laura Sullivan appeared first on Digital Photography School.