2. Be Aware of the Lighting and Environment
Once shoot day comes, make sure you have a solid plan—for both the portrait setting and any setup needed for your camera and lighting.
If you’ll be shooting in an interior or studio setting, acquaint yourself with existing options for backgrounds and lighting within the space. Will it be possible to shoot a natural-light portrait or will you need to plan for artificial lighting? Are there clean walls or a simple drapery that you can use for a backdrop, or will you be doing an environmental portrait within the space?
If you’ll be shooting outside using natural light, consider the time of day and the direction of the sun in relation to how and where you want to pose your subject. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times for a natural-light portrait, yet you’ll probably want to avoid shooting at midday, when sunlight and shadows are harshest. Don’t forget that overcast weather can also provide a good opportunity for a portrait with softer shadows and lighting that remains consistent over a longer period of time.
Ideally, your subject should be facing the sun, or at an oblique angle with the face lit to define features, while minimizing unappealing shadows. When composing the portrait, it’s essential to look beyond your subject and check your composition for issues such as a distracting background, as illustrated by Adler’s portrait, below. While it can be easy to overlook a soft-focus geometric shape such as this in the tiny space of your camera’s LCD or when peering through the viewfinder, it creates unwanted tension within the image and distracts from the viewer’s focus on the portrait subject.