Welcome to portrait tips and techniques 2012.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of being a guest speaker at our State convention for photographers, “Hair of the Dog” – my overseas friends….. don’t ask!

So many new faces, but all with the same passion to learn. The thing that struck me was the enthusiasm to learn more about the craft. I have been sensing for a while, that new photographers have missed learning the old skills such as finding and using natural light, angles of the face and body language to flatter people etc.

Technology has moved so fast, photographers have been caught up in learning Photoshop and how to use their latest camera equipment, that the very foundation of capturing and creating a quality image has become secondary.(IMO)

It was refreshing to have so many new photographers take such an interest in my timeless classics. When someone mentions “classic portraits”, people generally think old school. That can be true in some cases – the old stiff studio portrait as an example. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I showed B&W images from 1998 – 2011 and I don’t think anyone could tell – timeless, heart & soul portraits.

I’m talking about creating a piece of personal art for your client, that is so emotionally attached to them, that they will never remove them from their walls. My approach is to use the foundation skills of lighting, posing, emotion and mood during a session, to create such pieces of art. It’s called CRAFTSMANSHIP.

The following is an extract from my presentation.

Listed below are the 6 styles I try to use during any one session. Some of these could be bracketed, eg: interactive & controlled candids, but I will try to explain why I separate them. Sometimes I can only do 3 or 4, but more variety the better. TIPS: I would rather take less images and concentrate on quality and variety, than blaze away aimlessly.







CLASSIC….. Typical classic portrait, the light is wrapping around the young girl, creating shape and texture – the strong catchlights in the eyes – and an engaging soft expression would make any parent melt.

EMOTIONAL….. The bond between father and daughter says it all…… a lifetime special moment. This can be any family member or even a pet.

INTERACTIVE….. Finding a common interest amongst kids and letting it play out is my approach. Playing cards worked here.

CONTROLLED CANDIDS….. This style is a bit like a movie director, who has a vision, but needs the players to act it out. Easy when you have boys and their toys, I just had to guide them to create composition and lighting. The rest I guess is a bit of luck.

LIFESTYLE…… The parents of these three kids are professional golfers and kids love it, so it’s easy to get co-operation. Just find out the lifestyle of the family, it could be music, dance, surfing, sports etc. This will personalise their portraits and create uniqueness to their images.NB….don’t overdo the instruments/equipment/toys etc. Remember your adding variety to the session. TIPS: No parent wants every portrait on the wall with  props.

STORYTELLING…… This could be bracketed with a couple of the other styles, but sometimes the story of the kids having fun comes from the parents when they proudly show off their wall portraits, while telling the story of the session to their family and friends. TIPS: That’s priceless PR.

I hope this has given you some thought to the way you approach your next session. By all means be creative and keep up with the trends, have a foot in both camps – Timeless Classics and Contemporary.

My family, friends and peers tell me I shoot from the heart. The truth is, I SHOOT FROM THE HEART FOR THE HEART…… It’s a win, win, think about it.

Until next time, happy shooting


portrait tips and techniques




  1. Jacqui Says:

    Beautiful and brilliant and so very, very true.

  2. wayne Says:

    Hi Jacqui, thanks for your comment, it’s always appreciated.

  3. Jan Ramsay Says:

    Your wonderful lecture at Hair of the Dog was the talk of the day. I have had endless emails and phone calls saying how informative and great your talk was. Thank you Wayne for giving of you time and for sharing such valuable knowledge at this AIPP event. Your work is truly amazing. We are blessed to have people like you in the industry. Thank you again. Jan Ramsay

  4. wayne Says:

    Hi Jan, thanks for the feedback on my presentation. I got a lot out of it also. Long live “timeless classics”.

  5. Sue Davis Says:

    Hi Wayne,

    Thanks to Vicki Bells comment on FB I have just discovered you and your beautiful work!! Love it!!

  6. wayne Says:

    Hi Sue, thanks for your comment. I hope my blog can help you.Cheers.

  7. Wikus Says:

    Wayne thanks for another informative article. IT’S GOOD TO SEE YOU BACK ONLINE! I hope we will see many more of these great articles of yours.

  8. wayne Says:

    Hi Wikus. thanks, I’m glad you enjoy the posts. I’ll try and be more regular. Cheers

  9. Leanne Stamatellos Says:

    Wayne, it was an absolute pleasure to hear you speak and genuinely care about sharing your knowledge. I came and thanked both you and your wife and also spoke with Jan – it was a great class!

  10. Angela Says:

    Wayne, your presentation at HOTD was the highlight of the 3 days for me. Your work is timeless, beautiful and inspiring. Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge. Your e-book is fantastic too!

  11. Kristy Says:

    Love the emotion in your photography…just beautiful.

  12. wayne Says:

    Hi Kristy, Thanks for your comment. Emotions sell portraits(esp), well that’s what they say.I just enjoy emotional portraits, I think it’s the purist form of portraiture…….soulful.
    Many thanks,

  13. Robert Says:

    I have to tell you that your Ebook is by far the most useful book that I’ve seen on this subject!

    I have recommended it so often that I should get royalties! 🙂

    I cannot thank you enough for this, it’s chocked full of so much real world useful information that it would be a bargain at twice the price.

  14. wayne Says:

    Thanks Robert,
    I appreciate the feed back and referals.
    I won’t double the price…yet!!!!
    I answered your iso question on the 50mm lens post.

  15. Regina Says:

    Hi Wayne, I haven’t looked at your blog for a while but I refer to your ebook from time to time. Thank you for sharing your presentation here. I wish I lived nearby to attend that conference. You are right about learning the basics for taking photos. I start to learn taking less photos but getting my shots than before. It was hard to resist the temptation to click the shutter.

    I just started my photog biz about 2 months ago. One of the questions from the enquiry is how many photos they are going to get. I suppose a lot of people will calculate the price per image of what they get. How do you usually respond to this?

    Thank you.


  16. wayne Says:

    Thanks Regina for your comment. The answer to your question is difficult, as each photographer at different levels of experience would have a different answer.
    I charge a fee and then per print starting with 10×7″.
    Some would have a package that is inclusive of fee and prints. Pricing should always be based on your costs and overheads, but if you are starting out that is difficult. Look around at the photographers in your area, possibly the top , middle and lower and see where you think is right for you. Word of advice, if you are too cheap it will be difficult to raise your prices as you go forward. So I suggest maybe in the middle somewhere. As I said this is difficult to really answer. This is a good case for belonging to some professional organsation such as th AIPP.
    Hope this helps

  17. Oscar Z. Delano. Says:

    I bought your book a couple of months ago and it is just amazing. Right now I’m using it as a reference in my studies. But I got a question: I really want to improve my composition and I want to really understand the golden ratio and the golden triangle rules, do you have any book about this topic or is there any book that you can recommend me about it? Thanks for share your knowledge, your book is just stunning.

    Sorry if my English is bad, it’s not my first language.

    Thank you.

  18. wayne Says:

    Hi Oscar,
    Thanks for purchasing my ebook. I’m glad it’s helped you. I’m writing another at this moment and hope to have it finished next month.
    In the future I may have to write one on portrait composition. There’s many on landscape composition.
    The only suggestion I have is keep checking the internet for articles, but as I said in the book , Cartier Bresson was a master of composition and preferred the golden means over the rule of thirds
    So maybe studying his images closely may help.
    Good luck with your studies.
    By the way if you go to apple iBooks and search for FREE PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS you can download a free inspirational book I recently wrote.It’s only small, but has some tips.

  19. Portrait Tips and Techniques » Blog Archive » PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS FOR HOME STUDIES Says:

    […] last image is what I call a storytelling portrait. It’s a bonding shot of two […]

Leave a Reply