Cover image of Portrait Session: The Photography Podcast for Portrait Photographers

Rank #183 in Visual Arts category

Visual Arts

Portrait Session: The Photography Podcast for Portrait Photographers

Updated 3 days ago

Rank #183 in Visual Arts category

Visual Arts
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Portrait Session is the premiere podcast for portrait photographers who want to learn lighting, posing, post-processing, how to build a business, and more!

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Portrait Session is the premiere podcast for portrait photographers who want to learn lighting, posing, post-processing, how to build a business, and more!

iTunes Ratings

134 Ratings
Average Ratings

Love the show!

By gwendevah - Jul 02 2016
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Thank you for such a helpful podcast. I have been learning so much!

Fantastic Podcast!

By ACSouth Photography - Apr 05 2016
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Super informative and entertaining! It's taking my photography to the next level!

iTunes Ratings

134 Ratings
Average Ratings

Love the show!

By gwendevah - Jul 02 2016
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Thank you for such a helpful podcast. I have been learning so much!

Fantastic Podcast!

By ACSouth Photography - Apr 05 2016
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Super informative and entertaining! It's taking my photography to the next level!
Cover image of Portrait Session: The Photography Podcast for Portrait Photographers

Portrait Session: The Photography Podcast for Portrait Photographers

Latest release on Nov 21, 2018

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 3 days ago

Rank #1: 10 things to do to improve your portraits - EP 84

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Shoot in raw

Learn off camera flash

Read Picture Perfect Posing

Learn to walk the line between creative and tasteful editing

Understand white balance

Learn to “see” light.. And milk it for what it is worth

Mentor with Erica Kay

Get inspired, look at the works of others

Watch Connor’s High End Retouching Video on IP+

Never stop learning and finding that “new thing”

Nov 15 2016



Rank #2: The Steps You Should Take to Turn Your Hobby Into a Business

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In this Episode, Erica and Connor Discuss The changes coming to the podcast's format before having a conversation concerning the overall steps a person interested in taking their portrait photography hobby and turning it in to a business.

General steps for turning your hobby into a business:

Step 1 Ask: What kind of Portrait business do you want?

Step 2 Establish a legal entity.

Step 3 Accounting & Finances

Step 4 Portfolio Building and culling

Step 5 Pricing yourself

Step 6 Business Model/Customer experience

Step 7 Portfolio Display and Branding

Step 8 Building an Organic web presence

Step 9 Develop additional marketing strategies

Step 10 Finding Success: How to manage a transition to a job as a photographer

Sticking Points

During sticking points, Connor sits down with Kaden from 365th Street Photography to discuss his struggle with writing blog and social media posts that speak with a voice that feels genuine without being overly repetitive along with some general tips for finding effective keywords for blogging and hash tagging.

May 28 2018

1hr 9mins


Rank #3: Let's Talk About Specialties in Portrait Photography - Season 2 Episode 1

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Erica and Connor take an overview of the subject they are talking about throughout the second season of Portrait Session: The different specialties in portrait photography.

This is just an overview of all the different types of photography a person interested in portrait photography can focus on and specialize in as they master their photography.

We by no means feel we have compiled a total and complete list of potential specialties in photography in this list, but this list will be the general guide for us through this second season of Portrait Session.

If you feel like we may have missed something, feel free to join our facebook group and post in there to let us know!

Throughout this season we will be bringing on a number of experts who have mastered their specialty in the field of portrait photography. We will be focusing on our expert's abilities, experiences, and advice for those interested in digging in to their specialty in photography while making efforts to highlight the key factors a person should be aware of that might make any particular specialty different from others.

Specialties in portrait photography
















Sep 04 2018



Rank #4: Tips and Tricks for Posing Women - EP 100

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Erica and Connor share their tips and tricks for posing women.

For more in depth advice for posing women, be sure to check out Erica’s training video on Improve Photography Plus!

Focus on curves

Work from the bottom up for a basic pose


Foot placement


Weight in back hip





Using things to hide imperfections


Depth of field

Light and shadows

Jun 26 2017



Rank #5: Shooting headshots like a pro - EP 92

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Preferred lighting set ups

Jessica Charron I'd be curious how you determine the best light setup. Headshots are used for all different types of businesses and website. I don't think it's too tricky to figure out bright and airy or dark and dramatic. But I'd like more info in the before the shoot stage I guess. Do you send questions to your client, do you have a consultation, do you just do the same set up for every headshot?

Morayo Sayles Hi Erica, I would love to discuss your take on Natural light headshots vs. flash headshots. I know Connor works in studio, but do either of you take your headshots outside? And when you do, how do you decide when you want natural lighting vs artificial lighting?

Traditional v. Environmental

Adrian Mitchell I use seamless rolls for backgrounds (Black, Thunder Gray, and White). Sometimes I get bored with these generic backgrounds and use gels to switch things up a bit, or apply textures to the background in post. Besides gels, are there any other special tricks you use to bring life to a bland or dismal background?

Margo Rader Do you use any portable back drops for headshots? If so, which ones? Fancier Studio Pop up backdrop

Individuals v. Group

Zelda Zaragoza Johns I have a potential opportunity to do a high volume shoot. Wondering how to speed through a lot of people and still get good quality.

Acting/Dramatic v. Business

Scott Hallock For actor headshots, should the lens be at eye level, slightly above eye level, or slightly below eye level?

Agatha Knelsen How much is too much editing? We are providing pics that directors and talent agents expect to be a fair representation of the actor. Between posing and Photoshop, where is the line between true likeness and glamour?

Feb 24 2017



Rank #6: 5 Ways to Improve Your Portraits in 30 Days - EP 107

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Erica & Connor share their best suggestions to help you improve your portraits in the next 30 days.

Familiarize yourself with your gear.

It is easy to get bogged down with GAS, but it is important to realize that the best gear you can use is the stuff you have right now. Don’t allow yourself to pine after a new camera body if you don’t know the strengths and limitations your current gear.

Set up portfolio shoots.

Everyone has a busy schedule, so there is no need to add a certain amount of shoots here, do what you can comfortably do with your schedule even if it is just one shoot.

The key here is to not just set up a shoot, show up, and shoot the way you feel comfortable with. Set goals ahead of time of something you want to improve on and focus on that thing throughout the shoot so it becomes a comfortable point for you.

Set up portfolio shoots based on what you want to be paid for. Focus your efforts on the types of photography you want to be hired for. Don’t just shoot randomly.

Start Pre-visualizing your shoots.

This goes along well with the last segment. Go back and look at work you have done within the last 6 months and pull them apart. What could you have done better? THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING THAT COULD BE DONE BETTER.

Is this something you understand how to overcome?

The day of shooting it is nearly impossible to remember these things you casually noticed if you haven’t already mapped a solution to the problem. Think out exactly how you plan to overcome your weakness and have a “go-to” thing you want to do to fix it. This will increase the likelihood of you following through when the time actually comes about.

Focus on light.

Carve out time every day to focus on light. This doesn’t necessarily mean photography related light. As often as possible, pay attention to the way light hits certain objects and the shadows they create. The more you do this, the better you will understand the qualities of light.

Also make time to focus on photography related light. Whether you want to perfect your natural light photos or learn about flash, dedicate at least 30 minutes every day to light. Read about it, experiment with it, etc.

Start Building a visual vocabulary.

Something I have found as I have progressed in photography is that I have a certain visual aesthetic that appeals to me. This is something I honed by using sites like pinterest and tumblr to find work that appealed to me and pinned it.

This isn’t so you just copy work you find, but when you have a large list of images that you find striking, it starts to become easier to see elements of things you like in that imagery. I just recently downloaded tumblr again and went through my blog I haven’t posted on in a few years and it is amazing to see how much the things I blogged there still resonate with me now.

Feb 26 2018



Rank #7: Deciding What Kind of Portrait Business You Want - S 01 Ep 02

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Erica and Connor discuss the factors that go into deciding what kind of portrait business you want to start and explain the importance of bringing focus to your business.

There are many ways to take pictures of people for money, but what ways do you want to focus on?

What kinds of photos do you like taking? What kind of market is there for this?

Who would be your ideal clientele?

Consider income bracket, age, gender, what they look like, how they dress, where they hang out, what they’re interested in. Analyze the shit out of them to create your perfect client. Knowing your perfect client will allow you to market to them appropriately, price yourself appropriately, and plan your social media.

All too often people jump into making money without thinking about building a business.

You don’t have to pick just one, but it is a good idea to have an idea of things that you do and don’t want to do.

Think about restaurants. The best ones are usually the ones who specialize in a certain type of food (ethnic, burgers, pizza, etc.).

If you do pick multiple types of portrait photography, do they compliment each other and work as a single business? Is it better to create two separate divisions ie entities for differing types of photography?

Jun 05 2018



Rank #8: The Biggest Mistakes Photographers Make - EP 98

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Common mistakes we commonly see include things such as placing their light way to far from their subjects, placing their lighting to low compared to the subject, fumbling with gear and post processing blunders

May 10 2017



Rank #9: Branding and Displaying Your Work - S01 Ep08

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Branding and Displaying Your Work - S01 Ep08

In todays episode Erica and Connor talk about displaying your portfolio and tips for building the visual elements of your brand.

Then, on sticking points, Connor sits down with Michael Pugh to give him some thoughts on intentional improvement as he learns more about photography as well as giving some advice as to where his money would be best spent to help him hone his skills.

Branding and using visual elements to speak to potential consumers about what your business stands for.

Logos don’t mean much on a blank page, but branding is important for getting your message across to your client

You have an idea of what you stand for in business, this is the time to start writing things down on paper. Make a list of 3-5 adjectives you feel represent what your business stands for/says to clients.

This can also be helpful to put into terms of:

“I want people to know that my business is _______” or “I want people to know that my business doesn’t do __________.”

When doing this step, don’t be too focused on the aesthetic portion of your branding, but just consider the emotive elements of your brand. Often times the emotion and message of the brand will dictate the visual elements.

If you have the means, work with a professional designer to brand your business. They’ll help you with colors, fonts, etc., but also with coming up with things that will speak to your target client AND help you implement things in the best way possible.

Check out for affordable, but good quality logos 12:30 ish

“They” say that people have to see something 7 times before it becomes memorized. Put your logo and branding everywhere so that people see it constantly. It’ll help you become a recognized business in your community.

Other items of branding, business cards, possibly print boxes, letterhead, social media, etc.

Having a great body of work is good and fine and will look great on social media, but it is a good idea to have a place to show off your work and a website is a fantastic/professional way to do so.

Squarespace v. Showit v. Wordpress v. Wix v.

Client experience is also a part of your brand. Consider making videos that demonstrate what that experience looks like. Promo videos are a really cool and unique branding tool.

Jul 17 2018

1hr 19mins


Rank #10: Proper white balance and calibration - EP 96

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Connor and Sandy discuss proper techniques and reasoning behind proper white balance and calibration.

Apr 11 2017



Rank #11: Additional Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business - S01 Ep 10

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In todays episode we talk about additional marketing strategies to help you grow your business. Then, on sticking points, Connor sits down with Pete Lagregor to discuss ways he can convert traffic coming to his website into actual bookings.

Step 9 Developing additional marketing strategies

Will you operate on word of mouth? If so, is there a way you can encourage that further?

Referral programs

Clear expectations for tagging/photo credit on social media

Relationships with other businesses

Facebook has become a marketing monster

Social media as marketing

Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest ads

Facebook groups

Hashtags and tagging

Plan things ahead of time. When Creating advertisements don’t just ask what it is doing, but how it is doing it and how that will encourage others to follow through on their end.

Think creatively about what needs your ideal client has that only you can fill or that you can fulfill in an easier, cheaper, faster, or better quality than others in your market.


Jul 31 2018

1hr 4mins


Rank #12: Q&A with Connor & Nick - EP 83

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-All about off camera flash portraits: what modifiers to use, how to balance flash and ambient light, how to backlight, etc.?

-How do I build my portfolio to portray high end opportunities?

-Which website builder should I use for my new website?

-How do you prepare for a photo shoot?

Nov 07 2016



Rank #13: Defining your style - EP 91

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What is a photography style?

How do I identify my own style?

How do I develop my own style?

Where can I source inspiration for my style?

What styles am I drawn to?

Feb 03 2017



Rank #14: Growing your business - EP 86

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We all love small portrait sessions: Families, seniors, headshots

Benefits to this kind of session:

You get to be creative

You get to know your clients

You build personal relationships with people that appreciate your talent as an individual

You are an artist

Drawbacks to this kind of session:

You constantly have to find new clients

You have to explain the value of what you are doing

Often times clients will have quite limited budgets

To do this full time you have to be constantly marketing

Another option that can be used to bring in larger amounts of income with comparatively little time investment: Step and repeat Portrait Booths at events

Not talking about the often cheesy “hold up a moustache on a stick” photo booth

Not pre-made kibox kits that is self directed that print off little 2x2 prints right then and there.

Setting up a booth to take nice portraits that people can step in to, work with you for a minute and leave.


Often dealing with larger organizations that have budgets for events.

The hours are often relatively short (2-6 hours)

Easy editing

Don’t need to have nearly as many clients coming in to pay well.

Often times a way to get you in contact with a lot of clients.


It is Boring uninspiring work

You don’t get to interact with clients in a personal way

It often times takes more coordination before the event

A need for a bit more gear.

How it is done:

Physical Booth:

Usually about a 10’x10’ space

Need 1-3 light

Often times a backdrop

Maybe a themed prop

Place 1 light in the corner of the booth boomed as far in as possible while still being easy to navigate.

Tripod centered

Gaff tape line to direct the flow of traffic

Best to have some sort of card with information on how to get the photos after the event

1-2 assistants to direct the line and hand out card/answer questions about receiving photos.

You should spend about 20 seconds to a minute with each person/couple/family/group and take 2-3 photos of each.

How to get clients of this sort:

FIrst, make a list of holidays and or times of the year organizations tend to throw parties/employee outings/community events

Second make a list of Organizations and businesses that are likely to hold these kinds of events. (Hint: Look for companies that often are medium sized businesses with around 100-500 employees that could feasibly afford one of your in person sessions, but not so much that they would look down on the offer of a photo booth, i.e banks, construction companies, office parks, etc.)

Third, cold call to set up an appointment to inquire about any yearly events and activities in which you might be a welcome attraction.

Be sure to follow up.

If this isn’t their first year doing the event they likely have an idea of attendance levels. Build an estimate considering around 50%-75% of families in attendance wanting photos at a cost ranging from $3-$10 per.

This price can either be paid for entirely by the hosts of the event, entirely by attendees (less preferable, you will do less work in these cases) or a hybrid (same as other)

Lighting is the same for each shot so you can sync across the whole event of shooting with only minor adjustments to exposure and occasional cropping.

Deliver either to the organization for them to make available to attendees, or have your own link made available.

Dec 07 2016



Rank #15: Going Legit - Establishing Your Business as a Legal Entity - S01 Ep 03

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Erica and Connor Discuss how to go about getting your business established as a legal entity with the state and federal government. Then on Sticking Points, Connor sits down with Nick Skog to talk about how he can bring order to the tasks he has to take care of with his photo business and discuss ways of feeling confidence in the value of your work.

Some Helpful notes and resources

SBA has a huge section of their website dedicated to launching your business. Covers most of what we’re talking about today.

Consider the legal ramifications and the taxable ramifications of your business structure.

Each structure affects your operations, how you file your taxes, and how much of your personal assets are at risk.

IRS classifications are:

Sole proprietorships



S Corporations

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Most photo companies are sole proprietorships or LLCs.

how to file with the state.

If you’re operating your business as yourself under your legal name, you don’t need to register.

But, you’ll miss out on some legal/personal asset protections.

If you’re using a business name, you’ll need to register.

Very simple process that you can do online.

Ohio Small Business Development Center will do it for you!

Look up SBDC’s in your area. Lots of workshops, legal professionals, funding opportunities, etc. at your service.

How to get a tax ID number if needed

This is like a SSN for your business.

Costs involved with each.

Remember that we’re not lawyers or tax professionals. All of this information is based on our own personal research and experiences. Please consult professionals in your area to solidify and implement your business plans.

Jun 12 2018



Rank #16: Advice to Our Younger Photography Selves - EP 101

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Connor and Erica share their advice for new portrait photographers.

We discuss the things we would tell ourselves as we just started out knowing what we know now.

Get out and shoot, but shoot with specific goals in mind.

If it doesn’t look the way you want it out of camera, you’re not going to get it that way in Post.

Look at other photographers for inspiration and study, but DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO THEM!!

College can be helpful for many people, but it is by NO means the only way to learn photography.

Your gear DOES NOT make you a better photographer. Understanding your gear does.

Don’t spend money on upgrading your gear unless you actually see the limitations your current gear is putting on you.

When it is time to upgrade gear, get the best you can afford, but do your research first. Often times the second best in a line is all you will ever need.

Take the time early on to learn how to light with OCF. Even if you want to shoot ambient light, it will make it MUCH easier to understand how to get flattering light if you understand how to manipulate it.

Learn manual as opposed to TTL

This is frustrating and hard sometimes. There are days that even the top professionals will feel like things aren’t coming out well.

Your money is often times much better spent on education than gear. This can be through any number of platforms and can look like a lot of things. Sure, you may be able to learn everything for free eventually, but paying for educational materials/workshops/mentorships often times provides higher quality results and much more rapid learning experiences.

Stop saying you’re self taught. You were likely taught by the industry’s top professionals.

Study Business and marketing.

Stop taking advice of people that know better than you half heartedly and feeling like you know better. You probably don’t.

Jul 24 2017



Rank #17: Portfolio Building and Culling the Right Way - S01 Ep05

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In this episode, Erica and Connor discuss the best practices for putting together and curating a strong and effective portfolio that will help you put your best foot forward.
Then on Sticking Points, Connor sits down with Aaron Taylor to discuss the ways in which he can improve his sales and customer experience with his in person sales process.

Don’t throw every session you’ve shot into your portfolio. That is fine to start with, but eventually you need to get choosy.

Having a great body of work is good and fine and will look great on social media, but it is a good idea to have a place to show off your work and a website is a fantastic/professional way to do so.

Other items of branding, business cards, possibly print boxes, letterhead etc.

Before making any of these things, be sure you feel confident you can answer core questions about your brand. What do you stand for? What kind of service do you provide?

These questions have more to do with what your customer can expect from their interactions with you. Are you a brand that gives great looking photos at an affordable rate? Will your business model support that? What will that mean you are having to sacrifice to keep costs low in the long run?

Jun 26 2018



Rank #18: Setting Prices For Your Business - S01 Ep 06

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Start by learning what your pricing needs to be for you to have a sustainable business.

Don’t let local markets influence this part too much. It is important to know at what point your business will be sustainable to know when you’re on the right track.

Erica disagrees. You have to take local markets into account when pricing. You’ll struggle if price yourself at $10k a wedding in a market that has an average of $2k a wedding. Similarly, if you price yourself at $2k a wedding in a market that averages $10k a wedding, you’re devaluing the art and everyone else in your market. If I lived in LA/NYC/Chicago, I’d be charging 3-4 times more than I do now because of the market in both locations.

You can start out lower than this sustainable number, but it is important to figure out ahead of time. When you know what it will take to be sustainable you will have a target to hit.

Cost of Doing Business Calculator:

Sticking Points with Renos Erotocritou

Flash Gear to get started

Yong Nuo YN-560 IV

YongNuo YN-603 trigger

Cowboy Studio Stand

Flash Bracket

Shoot through Umbrella

Jul 03 2018



Rank #19: Tailoring Your Ideal Client Experience - S01 Ep 07

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In this episode Erica and Connor discuss different considerations to make as you think through the way you would like your ideal client to move through their interactions with your business. This can range from being a high end full service photographer, or a speedy and efficient shoot and burn photographer. One way or the other, it is incredibly valuable to think of how you would like your client to interact in your business and start putting systems in to place to allow for a consistent delivery of that client experience.

Strategize about how you want your business to operate from a financial structure

figure out how you want your ideal client interactions to run and work on getting systems in place to help things do so.

Think about client experiences/customer services you’ve had. What did you love about them? What did you hate about them?

Include the client experience in your workflow, so that it becomes an automatic part of your business.

Think about the client experience in all interactions - first email communications, first in person conversations, the duration of the project, the actual shoot, the delivery of the images, the creation and delivery of products, the final communications.

Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews (FB, Google, website, The Knot, etc.)

Be aware that asking for Yelp reviews goes against Yelp’s terms & conditions

On Sticking Points, Connor sits down with Diarmuid O’Donovan to discuss his current issue of feeling a lack of passion going in to his fourth year as a full time wedding photographer and is looking for a way to get past his feelings of redundancy and burn out.

Jul 10 2018

1hr 6mins


Rank #20: Managing Life as You Transition to Your Job as a Photographer - S01 Ep11

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In todays episode Erica and Connor give you tips for managing life as you transition into your job as a portrait photographer.

Then, on sticking points, Connor sits down with Frank Gallagher to discuss techniques for bringing out a person’s authentic personality in their portrait.

Step 10 Finding Success: How to manage a transition to a job as a photographer

You do not have to say yes to everything. Set boundaries.

Set aside management/administrative time in your schedule

Management tools

17 Hats or similar programs

Fundy or designer programs




Established workflows


Editing & delivery


Business crap

Aug 07 2018

1hr 8mins