Trick #7: Relax, You Have a Contingency Plan

7. Create a contingency plan for everything that can go wrong. Your portrait photographer will already have several plans because they are experienced and they have had things go wrong before. Ask them to share them with you as it will bring you greater security. I will describe some of my contingency plans. -10 Tricks

What can go wrong? Well, a bunch of stuff actually.

Is the subject a small child? It is a general rule that the smaller and younger the subject the greater variety of things that can go wrong. Think about it. It is rare for a 20 year old to vomit and poop herself during her portrait session but completely expected that the newborn will. Therefore, have wet wipes, change of clothes, a changing blanket, and fresh props on hand during a newborn session.

For the most part the biggest thing to go wrong is the weather. It is a wonderful thing to have a storm-tossed sky in a photo but that can turn to unruly ground wind and buckets of rain so quickly. Therefore, have hair styling equipment, umbrellas, and a place to run if things turn ugly. Conversely, if I’m doing something daring anyway a huge rainstorm could be perfect. Some people look completely amazing drenched.

Kevn watermarked This is Kevin. The weather for his session was terrifying. It is one of the best portraits that I have made. It is electrifying!

samara watermarked This is Samara. It was on the verge of raining throughout the session. Imagine the image without the wind and the clouds. It wouldn’t be as dramatic.

tiffany lebel rain watermark This is Tiffany. Rain is such a cool thing to have happen in a shoot, if you can find a way to use it everything is better.

IMG_8324 small waterm This is Ian and the weather outside was frightful. So we made drama with an off camera flash and reflector, both managed off screen by my husband. This image was shot mid-day in our livingroom. It was very bright but we made it look like night.

In the family photo featured at the top of this post there were several things going wrong at the same time. The children were restless, the day was chilly, it was pouring rain through the entire shoot. This is what went right – they were perfectly wardrobed so they didn’t match but they looked like a unit, the children were a variety of sizes which is amazing for posing, there is no worry about identical sized children overlapping. Their attitude toward the shoot overcame the rain and made what would be call-off-able weather into a massive improvement to the ordinary. The colours are more saturated, the use of water as an element in the image makes more sense, everything looks clean and the family was having fun doing something unusual in the rain. Also, we had the park to ourselves.

What if the camera isn’t working? Your portrait photographer will probably have a backup with her. What if it some equipment breaks? I actually had a client snap the foot off of my hotshoe (on the flash unit) during a sitting. He was “helping” me. But I know how to make the flash go if I need it without that part. Also, I carry duct tape, gaffer tape, rope and an assortment of bungie cords.

If we plan on sun but get clouds, I know some ways to make it look like the sun is shining on you. If we get sun but we hoped for clouds, I know how to make it dramatic and amazing.

For the things that you are bringing to the session such as clothing and props, please bring extra. If you are planning on wearing a blue shirt pleas bring two or three blue shirts. If you are bringing a baby who will be in the portrait, please bring five blue shirts and extra baby things.

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