The power of a professional portrait

2021 was such a year of ups and downs. Just when we thought Covid-19 was on its way out it came back to haunt us. Re-opening the business in April was the catalyst for a surge of work for me, as people were so pleased to be out and about again. Not seeing relatives and friends during lockdown has somehow increased the desire for professionally taken portraits of those dear to us and is really showing their worth above mobile phone snaps.

Being able to give a piece of bespoke, tangible artwork, depicting our nearest and dearest has cemented the connections between families, as well as our furry pets and beloved horses.

So what is it about a professionally taken and prepared piece of art that my clients desire?

Maria says of her daughter Brooke’s Prom dress portrait: “Lisa had a local studio and was very helpful when booking, sorting everything out including hair and makeup. This was to be a memory of my daughter’s Prom dress as she didn’t get to wear it due to Covid. Brooke felt wonderful afterwards and we are very happy with the photographs”

Whatever genre of portrait I am seeking to create for my clients the same amount of preparation and care goes into it before I even think about getting out the camera.

Clients are generally unaware of what goes into the Photography Experience that they will have with me. Professional photography should be thought of as an Investment, and of a completely different product to a mobile phone photograph. When purchasing a new car, for instance, much research goes into it as we try to decide on the best model for us etc. Portrait photography should be similarly considered.

  • What do you want your photographs to do for you.. or for others?
  • How will you display them?
  • How do you choose a photographer?
  • What will it cost me?

Often enquirers are only interested in the cost, without considering what else they need to take into account when booking someone.

Rapport with your photographer is key in the session, and my clients get a chance to see if we ‘gel’ when we have the initial conversations about their proposed session. Being photographed can fill some with fear so understanding the relaxed way I work is highlighted at that stage in the process.

Before the session, I will plan the shoot and test my lighting, arrange my props and make sure the studio is warm and inviting. Having some time to relax with a cuppa is always a good time to complete my paperwork, and gives the client, and their children and/or dogs time to settle in and relax. I like to educate my clients as I take the photographs, explaining what I have done with the lighting, why and how it will create images showing the subjects at their very best.

Well, that’s that.. the shoot is over and the client is off home. Surely that’s it? The photos have been taken, so why do they have to wait a couple of weeks to view them?

Post-production is the final polishing that I do on the images, which includes deleting those that have not come out so well, resizing and cropping images if required, as well as fine retouching on skin, clothes and background. This gets rid of dust or marks, temporary spots on the skin etc. The images then receive my trademark texturing, before being prepared as a slideshow to music all ready for the viewing session.

I love the viewing sessions, although I always find them a bit nerve-wracking whilst I wait for the Clients’ reactions! Making sure the Client is able to choose exactly what’s right for them is one of the best bits of my job. I have bought something to put on the wall myself and then wished I had bought something bigger, smaller or completely different. Investing their hard-earned money in a piece of wall art that they later wish they had bought at a different size is very disappointing for them. As much time is taken as necessary for this, and sometimes they have to go home and measure their wall before they finalise their order – just in case.

I get really excited when my Courier arrives with the finished piece from my suppliers!

You never quite get better than holding a beautiful piece of your art in your hands. Sometimes I don’t actually want to hand it over to my Client.. I just want to keep it for myself! That usually means I have to order another one for the studio wall!

Having spent over 10 years honing my craft through training and experiment my work continues to excite me and push me to try even harder to create bespoke, authentic and emotive photographs that can span generations. I really never thought I would end up being a photographer when I started out in the world of work in 1979.