Portrait Tips, Questions, and Answers



(760 459-7753)



Thank You for choosing Westland Portraits 

Please read this report in it's entirety before

you come in for your session. 

                                                                                       Al Melzer

                                                                                                                                                 Your Photographer

If you are planning a portrait session you will find these pages loaded with information to help you along your portrait creation journey.


This report will show you some clothing preparation tips, background ideas, posing ideas, packages, decoration ideas and other valuable information you should know.


First, let's talk about the different styles of portrait available to you.



Studio Session:


The most popular look is what is called the High Key Portrait. This simply means a very light or white background. This look is very pleasing and flattering. It does work best when you dress in colours that are lighter, such as whites or pastels.


NOTE:  Contrast to what some people believe, high key portraits will not make some people look "washed out". When done professionally, it actually produces richer looking skin tones and is quite flattering.


 Another popular look is the Low Key Portrait. This look works best when you dress in darker tones so the attention goes to the most important part of the portrait - the subject ! Low key portraits have more mood and dramatic effect.


Which style works best for you? It's a matter of personal preference. They both work. If you can't decide simply dress in clothes that you like (but follow some of the guidelines further on in this report) and I will create a look once you're at the studio. Some people prefer to "come as they are" and I can appreciate that.


The Designer Location Session: 

This is any session created on location. Some spots that are popular are back yards, camp, local lakes, rivers , parks and your home..




Getting Ready for your session :


Most people prefer to look a little slimmer than they are; yes it's true ten pounds. (You really wanted to hear that, didnt you!?… 


Don't get too stressed! This can be dealt with by using proper posing, turning your body to a better angle, lighting and adjusting the camera angle or height etc. (and many other ancient secrets that have been passed down through the ages from photographer to photographer.) And that's my job. All things that I look for. It's what I'm good at. Otherwise I'd a been a lawyer, or worse yet, an accountant...

Truth is I can spot a weak eye, double chin, bad hip angle, over hanging belly, and all things we don't really want to emphasize in the portrait. It's second nature to me now.


Portrait Dressing Tips:

- Solid colors are slimming

- For high key portraits, lighter, pastels are great. Very popular with jeans.

- For low key, consider black, olive, gray, navy, plum, burgundy, dark brown...

- You can mix the colours, just be consistent. In other worlds, if you are going for a lighter look,          be certain that everyone is lighter (any shade). Darker, vice versa.


- Avoid glasses, especially tinted glasses, whenever possible. They compromise the lighting and distort the facial lines. Pop the lenses out,or borrow a pair of frames.

- Tinted glasses are virtually impossible to work with. 

- Non-glare glasses are often ok, and the newer style small frames seem to pose no major obstacles.

- Avoid big sloppy running shoes, especially ones that used to be white.

- Watch tight shirts on larger mid-areas.

- Men-watch out for that "five-o'clock shadow". Ladies - no more make-up than the norm.

- Avoid new hairstyles. Avoid mini-skirts, unless it is a fashion statement.

- Clothing should not be too tight or too loose.


Studio sessions are great, but nothing beats the personal and unique look of a portrait created at a place that has meaning to you.

Your home? The home you live in and have lived in for generations?  Give it some thought and consider creating something unique that you and you're family will cherish.



Group Portraits:

Clothing for group portraits must be carefully selected to blend the bodies together. First, decide whether the basic tone of the clothing will be warm-toned (browns etc...) or cool-toned (blues, greys, blacks etc...)

Then follow the instructions above and on the previous page. However, we recognize that it is sometimes very difficult to get everyone coordinated due to distance factors. When this is the case, we will work with whatever you show up in and try to balance the colors within the poses...Of course you wouldn't follow every single item listed here to the letter. These are simply ideas. I always recommend that you wear something you feel good in. But above all...relax! 

Here's what I like to tell people: These sessions is not about you. Really. It's not. I mean you do want to look your best, but the end result is for those closest to you. Your family and friends. They are the ones who see you and know you only through their eyes. So the more you relax, the more they get to enjoy the portrait and see you...well, relaxed. That's how they know us best, don't they?



If your glasses are thick and large (like the ones from 1978), you should seriously consider borrowing a pair of empty frames or pop the lenses out.



Can I have color, black and white, or sepia ?  Are my portraits retouched or enhanced ?


In the good old days (up until recent past that is...), retouching was done in a very tedious and time consuming fashion. Nowadays the power of computers had made retouchingand enhancing of portraits a much more versatile and creative process... BUT, the skills and techniques have not changed. It takes skill, talent and a trained eye to apply the right amount of enhancing to portraits.Otherwise you risk the portrait looking like the grade one class work on it, or nobody did any enhancing to it. Even extreme is not good since everyone appreciates some "magic". It all depends on your personal taste and the nature of the portrait. 


Any part or all of your order can be in colour, black white or sepia. Most folks leave the retouching up to us but we are open to your requests. Different effects such as the soft edge vignette offer a timeless feel to some portraits.



When will I see the proofs ? How long will the order take ? What if I don't like the images you create ? Who should I get pictures for ? And other burning questions ...


When will I see the proofs?

Most sessions the proofs are ready within 15-30 minutes after the session. If circumstance prevent this from happening they will be ready the next day, or business day. You get to see your images in our studio on our 46 inch monitor.

The proofs are made available for you to borrow for a short while to help you make your final decision. Besides contact sheets, you will have the benefit of being able to see your images on a CD slide show that you get to take home. This is a temporary show which makes it very easy to see the images large, on your PC computer, in the comfort of your own home.


How long before the portraits are ready ?

Most orders are ready within 4-6 weeks. It takes time to work on the images and have them printed professionally by our lab. If you have special time limits we may be able to help you. Just ask.

What if I don't like the images you created for us ?

With your help and our expertise we try to ensure that the very best is created from your photo shoot. Rarely, if ever, is anyone not satisfied. Most items are easily avoidable, when you plan properly. However, we guarantee our work, and if you aren't happy, we will offer you a reshoot or refund your money. NO hard feelings.


Who should I get pictures for?

Everyone you know, of course. We need the money. Actually, we've included a list at the end of the report for you to consider.



You took so many, I don't know which ones to pick ?

Many people feel that we know which image is best. While it's true that we may have favorites, the fact is when it comes to choosing your favorite pose, it is completely subjective.


Here's a great rule of thumb:

When going through the images, especially the first few times, trust your first impression. If you see an image and have a reaction, that's your heart speaking. Better to trust it than someone else's opinion. Trust your gut feeling. It won't let you down. If you try too hard and analyze a pose too much, you are using your head and too much logic.



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