Portrait Photography Lessons

One of the real advantages of taking photography lessons with a professional photographer is that students can go out on location and practice their photography skills under his watchful eye.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve have been out with students signed up on my 12-month personal mentoring plan.  A whole year of lessons and photo-assignments for anyone who wants to take their photography seriously in the Fleet, Hampshire area.

Kevin Ahronson Photography - Hampshire, Surrey, Berkshire - -1

Working outdoors with flash

If students opt to include portrait photography among their chosen subjects, we often arrange photoshoots with real people, sometimes models – sometimes volunteers with no experience in posing… just like in the real world

It’s not enough these days to just be technically competent and have lots of expensive camera gear, you also need that ability to communicate effectively with people and create a rapport with them.

Most clients in front of a camera are awkward (initially).  Getting a relaxed, natural shot can often be a challenge.  And some people find the whole process extremely uncomfortable.  These require extra work to help them relax.  Sometimes, just chatting with them beforehand (with no cameras in sight) will work wonders

Some of the best people photographers in the world have got where they are because they are good with people, and people like working with them.  If your personality is more outgoing, you’re likely to find photographing other a lot easier than perhaps someone who is more introverted.

Certainly, it is my experience, that those who are of a quieter nature seem more comfortable photographing landscapes or perhaps shooting macro photography.  These are of course sweeping generalisations.  I know of excellent portrait shooters who are very gentle – and some wild and wacky landscape photographers who produce outstanding images.

It does take a bit of courage though when shooting larger groups of course.

Control is important in these cases and sometimes you have to be firm (laced with a lot of humour).  Wedding photographers frequently have to shoot large groups and when they do, it’s often amongst a chaotic crowd of excited people.

The pressure is on when lots of people are watching you.

You’ve got to know your way around your camera.  Causing delays while you fiddle with your camera controls at worst causes crowd frustration – and at best you can expect a barrage of humorous heckling.

SCL Annual Conderence 2018 Group Shot-1

Controlling larger groups may not be for the feint-hearted

I digress, back to the training…

Typically, these on-location training sessions teach students how to work with people and how to get the best out of them.

The technical side yes, but the practical side also.  I let them converse with the clients to experience the sheer terror of the moment.  And for most first-time shoots like this, it’s more terrifying for the student than the client.

Loads more (!)

By the time we go out, students have already got a good understanding of how the technical side works, but putting it to the test, with me and clients watching is a real test of nerves.  A good forecast of what lies ahead if the student decides they want to photograph people for a living (or serious hobby).


Kelly Perrin on photoshoot-251

Student Kelly practising her small-group skills

Occasionally when the sun disappears we have to use flash to replicate the effect of sunlight.  This means I become the photographer’s assistant, holding a portable flashgun on the end of a boom pole behind the model’s head.  It does a pretty good job too.
(No flash used in the shot above)

If you’d like more info about the 12 mth Personal Photography Mentoring Plan, click here

Learn Photography

If you’re looking for photography workshops, photography courses or photography lessons, check out our website at hampshirephotoschool.com or call Tuesday – Friday 01252 643143

Kevin Ahronson

Kevin is a full-time professional photographer and has been teaching photography since 2009. He founded the Hampshire School of Photography where he runs photography workshops and gives one to one mentoring to photographers at all levels, from complete beginners through to those who want to turn professional

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