For some people the only way they think they can have a professional portrait taken is to stand in a studio in front of a big set of lights but lifestyle shoots just might change their mind. Having the great outdoors as your studio will give you so many more creative opportunities with backgrounds, colours, shapes and textures, as well as being able to shoot a story.
A 70-200mm lens is a good choice for DSLR shooters. Shooting around the 135mm mark at f/4 can give great perspective and enough depth of field to throw the background out of focus without leaving it too shallow. A wider lens, such as a 14-24mm is great for environmental portraits, while a 55mm macro lens is great for detail. If you want a good all-rounder lens, a 24-70mm would be a good choice, too. It's also a good idea, if you have them, to pack the speedlights, continuous lights, ringflash and reflectors.
Organisation is key so make sure you have a plan in advance. Having a few locations that you are familiar with will give you plenty of scope, and it also means you'll know particular spots that'll work well for your shots. Local beauty spots, good urban routes with interesting architecture or a park with lots of interest such as water features are just some of the locations you could work with. The other place you need in reserve is somewhere dry in case of bad weather.
It's important to discuss clothing, make up and meeting points then on the day of the shoot, meet for a coffee and spend 30 minutes or so having a pre-shoot chat as this will help break the ice. You could even take a book or folder of a few favourite photos along to show your model / client as they'll welcome the opportunity to see your ideas and help. Come up with a few ideas and even adjectives of the mood / feel you're trying to create. For example, Autumnal shoots could be about warm clothing and crisp golden colours. By doing so you will be able to portray a theme to your clients / model who should be able to quite naturally slip into an informal pose to convey this without really having to try or feel self conscious.
When it comes to the shoot, let people be natural and remember it's your job to make them feel comfortable even if you do know the person / people you are photographing. Shoot intuitively and creatively. Even if you've shot in a place many times, try setting yourself a target to come up with several new shots. This time of year's a good time to experiment with natural frames as the autumnal shades add warmth to the image. Just make sure you focus on your subject so the leaves blur just enough so you can still see what they are but don't distract.
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