Rick Sammon Archives - JOBY Blog

Tips from a Pro: On Location Portraiture

By | Photography | 2 Comments

The holidays are nigh and for many of us this means plenty of time spent celebrating with friends and family. For the photography-minded among us, it also means that we’ll want to capture friends and family in the best light so we can cherish our photos long after the holidays have passed. Lucky for us, Lowepro brought on professional photographer Rick Sammon to tell us how to get the best out of our portrait subjects during this holiday season, and far beyond.

Rick Sammon is a world-renowned travel photographer. Rick is the author of 36 books on photography, has several photography apps and leads dozens of photography workshops every year all over the world.  


Portraiture Philosophy

The camera looks both ways. Picturing the subject means we are also picturing ourselves. You—your mood, your body language—are reflected in the subject. It is important to be just as aware of yourself as you are of your subject when you are shooting a portrait.

Also, be sure to take photos of the people you love. You won’t ever regret having those images.

How to Get a Great Portrait


  • Respect your subject, especially if you’ve just met them.
  • Be friendly. Smile big. Share a bit about yourself and get to know them before you get behind the lens, even if it is just for 10 minutes.
  • Film the frame. The closer you are to the subject, the more intimate the photo becomes
  • Capture the “catch light” in their eyes. A little highlight/sparkle in the eye really brings the subject to life.
  • Try an off-center composition
  •  Shoot both vertical and horizontal
  •  Shoot Camera RAW to give yourself the most options in post production
  • ALWAYS KEEP SHOOTING! You never know what your subject will do next.


Portrait Gear

Favorite Lens: 24 – 105 mm zoom lens

#1 Accessory (after his Lowepro bag, of course): a flash


Lighting Tips for On-Location Portraits


Light illuminates, shadows define. The shadows are the soul of the photo.

  1. Pay attention to the direction of the light and move your subject to maximize the available light.
  2. Use a daylight fill flash. Try to balance the flash with ambient light for best results.
  3. Keep lighting set-ups as simple as possible. If you’re inside, use just one softbox. The larger the light, the softer the light. The closer the light, the softer the light.
  4. Reflectors are also great. They can bring out true colors and create contrast. Avoid placing the reflector below the subject because that creates a flashlight-below-the-chin effect.

For more lighting tips, check out Rick’s iPhone and iPad App “Rick Sammon’s Light It!”.

A Bit About HDR and Portraiture


HDR (high dynamic range) photography is when the photographer takes a series of images of the same scene to capture the entire range of highlights and shadows. These images are then merged into one final image in post-production. The spectrum of highlights and shadows in HDR goes beyond what a camera can capture or the naked eye can see.

Avoid applying HDR to people because the effect can be rather harsh. Instead, apply the effect around them for better results.

For more HDR tips, check out Rick’s iPhone and iPad App “Rick Sammon’s iHDR”.


If you’re interested in listening to this webinar or LowePro’s past webinars, visit Ask the Pro.

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