It’s important to keep a shoot moving along, keep your subjects engaged, and keep up appearances that you know what you’re doing, right? We all want to appear to be in confident control. However, it’s also important to pay attention and make adjustments so that you don’t waste time making pictures that are going to cost you more work to finish than they may be worth. Let me give you some examples.

Lint & Pet Hair

You will spend decades of your life retouching lint and hair off suits and jackets if you don’t catch it before you start clicking the shutter. The other day, my friend Carlos assisted me for a long shoot with lots of headshots and every time my subject had a dark jacket Carlos reminded me to use the lint brush. Left to myself, I would have simply started making portraits–after all, I only had each subject for a couple of minutes each. But Carlos’ reminder saved me several minutes on each picture in retouching and only took a few seconds during the shoot. Furthermore, it demonstrated to my subjects that I was interested in helping them look their best. If you retouch in post, your clients have no idea that their jacket was a mess in the beginning and will take it for granted that it looks fine now.


If the background has something wrong with it, it will be wrong in every picture. I photographed these two little dancers in the Skylum booth at Shutterfest. It was a spur-of-the-moment picture opportunity, and I had only just set up the backdrop and hadn’t yet removed the wrinkles (easily done with a spritz of water). The girls performed marvelously and we had a great time making a few pictures. However, the backdrop is a wrinkly mess in every shot and it’s a daunting task to retouch that in every single photograph.


It’s always worth stopping to fix up a little problem while you’re shooting. Lint on dark clothing and background problems are just two examples of stuff that is easily fixed at the moment, but hard to fix later. Rather than looking bad in front of your client, they will likely realize that you are vested in helping their portraits look their best.

Portrait Tips come out each week, and you can see them all right here.