I want to get started portrait photography, on location and with couples, etc. I have a website set up where I show my travel and lifestyle photography but I don’t have a lifestyle photography portfolio. What do you think is the best way to develop that?
With any type of photography, especially photography that involves people the easiest thing to do is to develop a portfolio of work through fake portfolio sessions. Even for the most successful wedding photographers, most of the stuff in their portfolio is not a “real” weddings. They hire some models or have some friends come in and they try to make the photos as fantastic as possible because with photography, and especially in weddings, people are buying the fantasy not the actual reality
So if a photographer wants to make their portfolio look amazing they hire the best models, with the best outfits, and the best locations, rather than what necessarily took place.
You can do the same thing with the style of photography you are talking about. There are loads of modelling agencies with lifestyle models that you can hire or you can ask friends and family to help you out. You can put word out on social media if you have a large following that you are looking for models and then there are sites like PurplePort and ModelMayhem and similar where you may be able to find models to photograph.
It also depends on the kind of models that you are looking for as well. If you are really looking for a specific kind of “normal” utilising your family and friends is going to be your best avenue to get started.
I also always advice people to try and be a little bit superficial when you are putting your portfolio together. As horrible as it sounds you might have a really unattractive brother in law that is a really lovely person but who is not going book you as many photoshoots compared to having the most attractive member of your family pose for you.
Another thing I say quite regularly is that one of the things that photographers in general tend to be bad at is investing in their own business in the correct way.
We always run around and rave that the latest Canon has came out that I NEED to buy, or I need this fancy lens, or I need this thing, or I need that thing.
Its always gear. More gear, gear, gear, gear..
If someone suggests that you should print out some more business cards you tell them you can’t afford it. Or if I tell you that if you hire a model your portfolio will look amazing you’ll say “but you know.. I’d rather buy this new light thing”
Are you able to do the jobs right now with the gear you have?
Do you need to get more customers?
How about you invest the money in your marketing and promotion instead of your infrastructure? So if your infrastructure, which is your gear you already have, is doing the job.. and you are not getting enough jobs or getting the type of jobs that you want. It might be time to invest some capital into developing your business further in the direction that you want to go as well as just getting the word out there about your business as well.