Top tips for travel portraiture

Local people are what I love to take pictures of most when I travel, it’s the character you can see from just their face, the connection you can make. While both the subject and the photographer come from entirely different backgrounds and don’t speak the same language, it is the eyes that holds the connection. An entirely different world to San Diego.

  • Firstly and most importantly smile, look approachable, welcoming and non threatening, you can often tell by their reception to your greeting whether they are happy to have their picture taken.

  • Bring a guide, or befriend a local to join you on your day shooting, they can translate for you importantly ask if they are happy for you to take their photo and whether it’s appropriate. It will be far more enjoyable and relaxing for their subject knowing they can ask questions about you too.

  • Be at the same level as your subject, if they are sitting, sit too, if they are standing, stand.  If they are a child or much shorter, crouch. This will help the perspective of your portrait and enable the viewer to fell as though they are there and looking straight at the person.

  • Show them the pictures, they will be curious to see them and if you’re really remote they may not have seen what they look like on camera before. It’s where a digital camera gives an even greater connection.

  • Look at the lighting, it can be tricky if its of someone in their natural environment but move around and make the light work. If it’s very bright I personally prefer back lit photography, or if you can, shoot in the shade.

The countryside was my favourite part of my recent trip to Rajasthan - a huge thank you to Scott Dunn for sending me there! 

It was how I could communicate with the shy local Indian women with only a smile, their curiosity encouraged them to open or remove their veil and they were thrilled to have me take their picture.  In return they quickly became talkative and the questions they asked my guide about my lifestyle were captivating.  



How to prepare for your photoshoot

1-3 months: Schedule your shoot, have a consultation with your photographer. How would you like to be shot? Is your focus on portrait, lifestyle or a fashion themed shoot. What images have you seen that you love? 

1 month to 1 week: Start thinking about clothing. Remember, the focus should be on you, not patterns that distract.  Avoid prints that are too loud or the eye will be drawn to the outfit and not to you, instead focus on textures, shapes and necklines for structure. Bring 5-6 outfits and be sure to include a very dark colour, a cream or light colour, something that’s flirty and casual, something that makes you feel sexy and elegant and if you have something flowey/whimiscal bonus points, anything fun to twirl around in!  Generally fitted clothes will work better than baggy clothes, if you bring a loose item bring a belt or pair it with something fitted to create shape. Don’t stress about shoes, most shots won’t have feet in them and barefoot looks great too :)

10- 14 days: Sleeeeeeep  Get into a routine for a least one week before your shoot but ideally two weeks.  Switch off those devices by 9pm and wind down to get your regular sleep pattern.  Your skin and eyes will be at their best. Collect pictures of shoots and poses you like, stalk pinterest and instagram and collect in an album on your phone, or in a scrapbook.

1 week: Moisturise daily and gently exfoliate limbs if you suffer from very dry skin. Wear sunscreen everyday up to your shoot or stay out of the sun.  

2-3 days: Have a pamper day - Get a manicure and pedicure or diy it (natural, neutral or subtle colours are best).  Wear a face mask/exfoliate, have your roots touched up, get your eyebrows waxed and remove body hair. A word about fake tan - try not to, pale skin works great, and looks much better than the could be orange ;) 

1 day before: Iron and prepare your clothes, lay them out and check they’re hair and wrinkle free and try them all on. Bring any sentimental jewellery pieces you may want in the shot. Get that last work out in or that pedi mani if you haven’t yet. Moisturise all over and go to bed early!

Day of: Come with clean hair, teeth and dress in a comfy outfit to arrive in - zip up hoodies or cardigans are great to avoid messing up freshly done hair and make up. Have your hair and make up done unless you’ve included it with your shoot and then come with clean skin and clean hair.  Eat something! Arrive with plenty of time.  Bring any favourite images you may have collected for inspiration.

You are unique, don’t compare yourself to anyone else, let me shoot the very best you - Louise Canton


what’s the best starting lens for a portrait and fashion photographer?

There’s some must have lenses in a portrait and fashion photographers camera bag, but and there’s this one, to get any budding photographer started.  It’s easy to get sucked in to the money hole of photographer but do you really need it? There’s the old adage ‘a bad worksman blames his tools’ and one of my favourite sayings ‘all the gear but no idea’.  The best camera is after all the one that you have with you.  So I suggest to get to to know your camera, learn to work with the light and see what you can produce with my suggestion for your first camera lens (canon biased)…..

The plastic fantastic Nifty Fifty!  Probably the best piece of photographic equipment for under $500.  Also known as 50mm 1.8 by canon.  It’s a prime (it doesn’t zoom) so you will need to move around to make the composition work.  Prime lenses in general mean a sharper image and it’s f1.8 aperture which is great for low light or those pretty blurry pictures with a low depth of field.  If it’s good enough for fancy pants photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, then it’s good enough for me.

A 50mm lens on a full frame camera will have roughly the same view as the human eye, so it naturally works well with your ideas and creativity, perfect for those fashion shots and it works well with portraits too.

It started me on my photographic journey and yes, you can throw a lot more money at lenses for the highly acclaimed and beautiful L series, but the photo is only as good as the photographer, and there really is no better value glass.  The old version canon 50mm 1.8 ii is what I used for some of my favourite photos in my portfolio and the newer canon 50mm 1.8 STM is unreal for $125. Here’s a quick comparison video I made..

and some portrait and fashion photography of my own taken with this little lens…..

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