Keeping Your Clients Happy with Their Child’s Portrait Photography Pictures
Taking a picture for a child’s portrait can be very easy, but when your client doesn’t like something about the picture, you should take their advice and learn from it. There have been plenty of times I have had to retake pictures because of something so simple in the portrait that the client didn’t like. Here is a list I have compiled on things to watch out for and how to fix them in your portraits.
Messy hair and ungroomed hair is the most common complaint I get from unhappy clients, even when I think it was perfect, I always have that person who does not like something about it. For fly aways and frizz, I make sure to have a bottle of frizz-serum on hand to quickly fix my clients hair, or some hair spray. Hair should not lay on the shoulders because it can look a messy and straggly and make the person look as if they have split ends or haven’t showered – just to be honest. You can avoid this by simply taking the clients hair (most likely a woman’s) and separating it into two sections, and lying each side in the front of her chest on the left and right, or just one side for their portrait photograph. For clients with a thicker hair type, divide into four sections with two in the back, two in the front. Remember – nothing lying on the shoulders for the portrait.
Another big complaint about client’s portraits of their children I hear quite often, is that the client’s child looked hunched over in their portrait. Asking your subject to straighten her back when taking their portrait should be done right before you click the button on your camera to take the portrait. Why is this you ask? If you ask them to sit up straight 2 minutes before you have them posed perfectly, and the client does not naturally sit up straight, they will fall right back into the wrong position and you will get a hunched subject for the child’s picture.
Expression can sometimes be difficult to get – and look natural, but their are ways of making a subject have a great smile, and take a great expression-filled portrait. You never want your subject saying “CHEESE,” reason being the exaggeration of the word while saying it, it can cause wrinkles in the face on the final portrait. Some clients are too shy to smile, or may feel uncomfortable while smiling at you or for the camera, in this case, give them a simple word to say, like “PLEASE,” or “HAPPY,” and hold the ending of each word. This gives them something to go by, and can make them feel like they are doing it right and not be apprehensive about taking their portrait. If you make someone laugh, you may possibly get a good smile for the picture, but you may also get an over exaggerated smile in the final portrait, which again is not what you want unless your taking a candid.
Eye direction can really make a great picture. You can have two of the same portraits, with two different eye directions in each, and get two different feels from each portrait. Having someone look directly in the camera, look at you, or look away – all of these can make a portrait look great if done properly! For smaller eyes, I give the subject something to look at above the actual camera, like my hand, a toy, even me – just above the camera’s flash. This widens and opens their eyes and can really make a good portrait – just be sure for them not to be looking to high up in the picture. For larger eyes, I often try to get a big smile out of them so the eyes do not take over the entire picture, especially when doing close-ups. If you have a person who is a blinker, right before taking the picture, tell the subject to look at you and it will automatically give the subject in the portrait something to focus on, and this can help them if they blink a lot – making for a great portrait!
When I have a person ready to get their portrait done, and they tell me they are going to just take of their glasses, I look at them like they are crazy, especially if they wear their glasses everyday. If they wear their glasses regularly, why take them off? It makes them who they are. To avoid glass glare, tipping their head slightly downward or to the right of left can be a great way to go. Glasses that are thick are sometime a bit trickier, but play around with the head position and see what you can come up with, and you will eventually get the feeling when it comes to avoiding glass glare for your portraits. Trust me, parents absolutely hate when their is glass glare in their children’s pictures, because it happens too often in school portraits.
These tips are made for you to improve your portrait skills and learn simple tips and tricks to avoid picture retakes, while also avoiding your clients not being satisfied with the final portraits of their child. Clients can be picky, but by doing the picture over, you not only will learn from mistakes, (which can be helpful in the future) but it will also make your customer happy, and of course come back for more portraits from you!