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Watch Portrait Photography Session with Deena on YouTube

I've had many requests for this type of video, showing how I shoot a portrait session.  There is a ton of info in this video plus some commentary which explains what I'm doing if its not 100% obvious.  One thing that you may notice is that I don't spend a lot of time fiddling with my camera.  I know it 110% and only worry about my exposure, histogram, composition and focus.  Other things like white balance and picture controls could not be farther from my mind and I don't think about them.  My goal is to create great photographs and that requires me to have a great rappor with the model or family keeping the thoughts and fun going.

Here are your steps!

  1. Scout your location early or on another day with similar lighting conditions
  2. Keep a good conversation going with the model and 'look' at them making sure they are comfortable
    1. Learning to read someone's body language will dramatically improve your posing and portraits overall
  3. Know your equipment
  4. Use your histogram and screen (sparingly)
  5. Use a single focus point and put it on the model's face or eye
  6. Think about composition and what you want to create & ALWAYS fill the frame
  7. I usually recommend solid color clothing with no or minimal logos
  8. Shoot a few angles or crops of each scene so you can maximize sales potential (if you are selling images)


So what questions do you have?  Do you think you can do this?  What's your favorite available light portrait?  Photos after the break...

Deena Deena by Cazillo, on Flickr

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0 # Tony Castillo 2011-06-09 09:04
Great video Greg. Thank you for taking the time to make these videos for us to learn more about photography.
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0 # Dima 2011-06-09 09:59
Thanks Greg, excellent video.
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0 # Jesper 2011-06-09 10:10
Hi Greg,
thanks for this great walkthough of a portrait session.

Im a beginner which has been asked to take photos at my friends wedding this saturday and i am hoping if you could give me som tips, i have a nikon d5100, nikon 24-85 3,5-4,5 and a sigma 70-200mm + a SB-700. My friend has been advised that im new to this. I have been asked to take photos in the church an outside.

thanks for your time
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2011-06-09 10:22
Quoting Jesper:
Hi Greg,
thanks for this great walkthough of a portrait session.

Im a beginner which has been asked to take photos at my friends wedding this saturday and i am hoping if you could give me som tips, i have a nikon d5100, nikon 24-85 3,5-4,5 and a sigma 70-200mm + a SB-700. My friend has been advised that im new to this. I have been asked to take photos in the church an outside.

thanks for your time

I'd say most of my tips are in the video or text in the post, but the main one for new people is to know their equipment and exposure 110%, inside and out, backwards and forwards, like the back of their hand ;).
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0 # Tom 2011-06-09 11:58
My opinion, the 2nd last photo looks the best to me. Good pose.
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0 # Kevin Price 2011-06-09 11:59
Greg did good.....a few of them shots are great Greg, well done. Great mini tutorial. Good to see a real live shoot.
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0 # Trainspot 2011-06-09 12:06
Great video Greg, thank you! Excuse me if i didn't catch, what was your mean aperture during this shots? Thanks a lot
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2011-06-09 12:20
Quoting Trainspot:
Great video Greg, thank you! Excuse me if i didn't catch, what was your mean aperture during this shots? Thanks a lot

I was at 2.8 for most if not all photos.
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+3 # Felix 2011-06-09 13:02
Oh my God, this is the only video of a real portrait session i know. I think its great Greg. You are giving out a lot of knowhow in all of your videos. Especially in this one filming the entire session.

PS: Your video on Flahs helped me out although i dont use a flash but i shot a lightning bolt outside my window and the rules concerning ambient light and all that stuff also apply there. GOOD STUFF!
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+1 # matt langton 2011-06-09 13:07
Great video Gregory
nice shot of the back of your head :P

It was good to see how you interact with your subject and put them at ease.

good work fella
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+2 # Sean 2011-06-09 14:16
Great vid Greg! Can't beat actually seeing it done.
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0 # Gary Thursby 2011-06-09 20:25
Sweet video Greg! Love how you showed how to pose and interact with the model. Also loved that you used natural light, something that we should all strive to master. Your photos came out great!! LOL does not hurt to have a pretty model either! Photos and videos like these are why I will continue to follow you Big G!
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0 # Preston Williams 2011-06-09 22:33
That was awesome, I know that was one thing that I asked to see. You got me ready to do a Photo Shoot in the Park, or in my Case at the Beach!!! Keep up the Good work.
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0 # Michael Lamberty 2011-06-10 03:04
Hi Greg,
thank you for this insight into your work! While I do not only portrait photography. Your tips always interesting. I find your presentation very much more professional than that of Jared. Well, I like both portals, but I find your pages more interesting. Keep it up!
Greetings from Germany
Michael
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+1 # Nick 2011-06-10 05:24
Another great video Greg! I am wondering how you ensure there is enough available light into her eyes. Is it purely the large aperture that is exposing it properly or are you positioning the model so that the light is where you want it? I commonly have issues when shooting with out an assistant with getting light into the subjects eyes when im not shooting with an off camera flash. Thanks
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+1 # Gregory Cazillo 2011-06-10 05:27
Quoting Nick:
Another great video Greg! I am wondering how you ensure there is enough available light into her eyes. Is it purely the large aperture that is exposing it properly or are you positioning the model so that the light is where you want it? I commonly have issues when shooting with out an assistant with getting light into the subjects eyes when im not shooting with an off camera flash. Thanks

I'm 'seeing' the light. The hardest part for most beginner photographers is reading the light on a subject and determining angle.
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0 # Kleemy 2011-06-10 11:22
Again, a very interesting video. You wrote, you ´ve chosen f 2.8 most of time. What, if you come closer to the model to do some headshots? Do you close the aperture then? To f 4.0 or so? And on what eye do you focus in half-profile?
Again, thank you very much Greg for the high quality of your videos!
Greeting to US from Berlin.
Olaf
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0 # przespol 2011-06-10 11:52
Great video Greg! I would like to see an outdoor flash photography next :) Thanks!
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2011-06-10 16:55
Quoting Kleemy:
Again, a very interesting video. You wrote, you ´ve chosen f 2.8 most of time. What, if you come closer to the model to do some headshots? Do you close the aperture then? To f 4.0 or so? And on what eye do you focus in half-profile?
Again, thank you very much Greg for the high quality of your videos!
Greeting to US from Berlin.
Olaf

I'll usually stay at 2.8 and focus on the eye thats in the main light, not the fill side or shadow.
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0 # ved 2011-06-11 04:37
Great video...you look better than last time in the video :) How about the results of the session? How's the pricing done for a session like this and what all it includes? Do you come across a point where you like a certain pic but the customer likes a different one which you don't believe is good? How do you handle those situations? Too many questions, sorry :)
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0 # ken 2011-06-11 07:20
Great vid Greg,
Im not into portraits but its always nice to learn how its done. You have a great repor with this gal.Was she a paying customer? I would be curious to know how you charged her if she was.
Keep up the good work.
ken
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2011-06-11 13:09
Quoting ved:
Great video...you look better than last time in the video :) How about the results of the session? How's the pricing done for a session like this and what all it includes? Do you come across a point where you like a certain pic but the customer likes a different one which you don't believe is good? How do you handle those situations? Too many questions, sorry :)

I only show the client photos I like and approve of, then let them pick. I'm not comfortable giving pricing info here but I will consider it for the future.
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0 # Ved 2011-06-11 22:55
Quoting Gregory Cazillo:
Quoting ved:
Great video...you look better than last time in the video :) How about the results of the session? How's the pricing done for a session like this and what all it includes? Do you come across a point where you like a certain pic but the customer likes a different one which you don't believe is good? How do you handle those situations? Too many questions, sorry :)

I only show the client photos I like and approve of, then let them pick. I'm not comfortable giving pricing info here but I will consider it for the future.

No problemo, thanks for responding, great info in your videos..thanks for sharing!
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0 # Ved 2011-06-11 23:03
Greg, In picture 11/46 do you think on top left corner the background is distracting? May be it's just me...May be it's making me think like that because the bushes are quite sharp than the rest of the background...ma y be we could use photoshop and blur it a little bit more? Just a thought, not trying to a critique here, just trying to learn to see pictures better. the pictures are absolutely great
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0 # MarkM 2011-06-12 07:39
Hey Greg, really great video, I was actually going to suggest doing something like this as its what I would be interested in and look at that, you made a great video! :-)

Can you please keep doing this type of work, not only model photography but any work you have, its great for us to follow you around and shadow your work! Awesome job! keep it up!!!
Mark.
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0 # Paul Baker 2011-06-12 21:07
Gregg! I always enjoy your videos and i learn a lot from them... I think I have learnt the most from the histograms so far.... I have watched that video 3 times! and everytime i watch it i learn something new? it's weird. Anyway! Keep up the good work!

Thanks
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0 # Kacpru 2011-06-16 06:30
Hi Greg
Thanks for that video. Right for an hour i'll have my first photo session with a stranger model. So it's really helpful to me.
Regards from Poland.
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0 # fernanda Rudloff 2011-06-16 08:17
Very nice Greg thanks for sharing ot with us, i love it!
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0 # Jeff 2011-06-17 03:27
@gregorycazillo Hey Greg, great video thanks for being so detailed with your settings and trying different lenses to find which one worked best for you! Also, I myself use AF-C, Dynamic Area AF with 9 cross focus points and it works pretty well tracking the subject. This was so far your best and more interesting and informative videos!
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2011-06-17 06:18
Quoting Jeff:
@gregorycazillo Hey Greg, great video thanks for being so detailed with your settings and trying different lenses to find which one worked best for you! Also, I myself use AF-C, Dynamic Area AF with 9 cross focus points and it works pretty well tracking the subject. This was so far your best and more interesting and informative videos!

The problem with DAF is it never seems to pickup the face, only an arm or chest area which is not ideal.
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0 # JF 2011-06-17 14:17
Great video Greg, you my friend, are an excelent teacher. :)
Keep doing this type of videos they're are very helpful.
Keep up the good work.
JF, from Portugal
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0 # Darren Edwards 2011-07-04 08:15
Hey Greg,

Great video and great idea showing us what you do during the session!!
Was just wondering whats happening with you and Jared?? Are you still working together or anything like that?
Cause he has mentioned a couple times about filming him doing a portrait session, so was wondering if he is copying you or you working together!
Thanks.

Keep up the great work!
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2011-07-04 08:18
Quoting Darren Edwards:
Hey Greg,

Great video and great idea showing us what you do during the session!!
Was just wondering whats happening with you and Jared?? Are you still working together or anything like that?
Cause he has mentioned a couple times about filming him doing a portrait session, so was wondering if he is copying you or you working together!
Thanks.

Keep up the great work!

We are not working together. Not sure what he is doing in his videos, don't watch them...
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0 # Michelle 2012-07-05 08:09
Hi Greg. I'm a SAHM armed with a Canon T3i. I am in love w/ the quality of the photos I am getting from this camera relative to the point-and-shoot (or disposables, dare I say) it replaced. Learning my way around it and have found your videos very valuable. GREAT CONTENT. Thank you!
I have taken a number of photos at Miller Park and the Marsh Creek area but I'm wondering if you can disclose the location for this shoot? If its a private property, that's OK, I'll keep scouting.
Either way, many thanks for sharing all this great content. I'll continue to follow!
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0 # Blak Naz 2012-07-05 19:43
Great tutorial video.
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