Jean-Pierre & Jeanfré {5-minute portrait session tutorial}

Just the other day I spoke with a photographer friend about selecting and showing only your best images on any given blog post. A general rule of thumb is if you have two photographs created within 5 minutes of each other, choose the best single image to share. Otherwise, showing more than one image dilutes overall quality due to it’s next door competition (the other photos taken at the similar time/location/pose/lighting/outfit/mood).

On any given hour portrait session, most photographers can easily come up with 20 unique images. Time is on our side. However, mastering the art of the 30 second portrait session is a handy skill to practice. Here’s how to make the best out of a 5-minute portrait session:

  1. Establish rapport. There’s no possible way to have your clients completely relax in just 30 seconds. They know you are there. Standing there. Shooting you and yours. I know, I know: awkward. So you make the best of out it. Make gentle conversation, be yourself, be a bit goofy… perhaps even make fun of yourself for leaving the lens cap on (happens more often than I care to admit).
  2. Shoot deliberate. Knowing exactly what lens and aperture you will use eliminates decisions you have to make… making it one less thing to think about. You might want to zoom in to 200mm at f/4 or shoot at 24mm at f/1.4. Up to you. But reducing the number of decisions you have make in front of your client automatically reduces potential fumbles and anxiety.
  3. Find the light. Plan in advance how you’d like to shoot. For this mini-session, I knew there was some linger ing afternoon light about ready to peek below the building. I usually face my open palm toward me and count the number of fingers the fill the gap between the sun and the horizon. Two fingers means I have less than 20 minutes (in mid-latitudes, one finger generally means less than 10 minutes). I chose to backlight Jean-Pierre and Jeanfré.
  4. Roll with it. When you are running and gunning, not everything will always work out. Don’t worry about it. Just remember to…
  5. Have fun. Take risks by experimenting with depth of field and exposure. If your clients see you are having fun, they’ll have fun, too.

Having said that, we met talented wedding photographer Jean-Pierre Uys and his wife Jeanfré from Cape Town, South Africa. We met at the Meteor Cafe in Santorini (Oia), Greece for a lovely champagne-strawberry-mojito while savoring new friendship and the taste of summer. Perfect time for a 5-minute mini portrait session!
I almost wasn’t gonna show both of two lower colored images, however I think it demonstrates how just a subtle shift in focus and shooting angle can yield a completely different effect… fractions of a second apart.

10 Responses to “Jean-Pierre & Jeanfré {5-minute portrait session tutorial}”

  1. kirsten boyer — July 20, 2011 @ 2:06 pm (#)

    How did you get James Dean to pose with this beautiful woman?

  2. lizelle lotter — July 20, 2011 @ 2:09 pm (#)


  3. Pingback: Photographed by RJ Kern » Jean-Pierre Uys Wedding Photography

  4. Jean-Pierre Uys — July 20, 2011 @ 3:37 pm (#)

    Thank you very much RJ! We will meet again one day…hopefully some exotic location again!

  5. Yolande Marx — July 20, 2011 @ 3:38 pm (#)

    Pretty pics of Mr and Mrs Uys! Such rich colour.

  6. Scott Stebner — July 20, 2011 @ 10:11 pm (#)

    Love them RJ! And some great points as well!

  7. Earl — July 22, 2011 @ 1:21 am (#)

    Excellent tutorial RJ, really good advice. Love the pictures, looks very natural and fun and the colours just pop out!

  8. Alec Vanderboom — August 4, 2011 @ 12:53 am (#)

    i like these

  9. Brooke Summer Photography — August 18, 2011 @ 8:45 am (#)

    He really does look like James Dean! I love the photos, they look so natural!

  10. Pingback: The Hit List: 32 Photo Tips & Tutorials from 2011 | Kern-Photo

Leave a Comment

book R.J. for your next event!

Check Availability
or call (303) 474-0983