Dave Merrow is a Commercial Portrait Photographer, serving Mississauga, Toronto and Surrounding Areas

As a budding commercial portrait photographer, there is one thing you should have come to grips with very early in your career. Taking pictures of people is not always as simple as the final product makes it appear. Children squirm and never seem to smile at the right time. Lighting is poor. Backgrounds and props sometimes appear mismatched depending on the clothing your subject is wearing. And adults — particularly when it comes to corporate photography — are always running behind schedule, have a fire to put out, or are constantly distracted by their smart phone.

The good news is these are issues that can be overcome if you understand some basic truths about taking great people pictures.

How a Commercial Portrait Photographer Takes Great Photos:

Bridge the Gap

A commercial portrait photographer will often be called upon to take photographs of staff at a company picnic or other group function, or may be tasked with shots of a key executive or development team posing with a new product gearing up for launch. Depending on the situation, it is only natural to want to get as much detail into the photograph as possible, but a good piece of advice is always remember the person — or people — are your subject matter, and not the background. The background complements the shot, not the other way around. Do not let the distance interfere with the photograph. Get closer to your subject.

Natural Lighting is Your Friend

Technology has made it pretty simple for just about anyone to take good people pictures, even children, thanks to digital cameras. But rather than always using the “Automatic” setting on your camera and relying on a pop-up flash, work with natural lighting to get softer tones and shadows in your photographs. The expectation may be for a commercial portrait photographer to always photograph subjects inside, but a slightly overcast day or late afternoon sun can make for a great end result.

Keep Your Subject Busy

Posed photographs are not all they are cracked up to be; try something different. Put a mobile phone in a toddler’s hand and let her talk with an imaginary friend. Capture a shot of a key executive presenting an award to an employee, or a new product — sports car, a child’s toy, anything — in action.

Technology Is Your Friend

A good piece of advice you may hear from a commercial portrait photographer is technology should be used to your advantage. All digital cameras today — whether a single purpose device or combined with a mobile phone — come with a preview screen. This is an excellent way to frame your subject with the background and make sure everything is in focus before snapping the picture.

Time Is On Your Side

Finally, if you are a commercial portrait photographer and have been hired for a particular job, you normally have x-amount of time to work with, either for individual or group subjects. Take advantage of it. Set up the photograph and do not rush it.


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