Natural light portrait woman, western cape photographer, natural light photography
Digital Photography Tips


As you know, I normally photograph pets but more and more humans have been popping out of the woodwork these days looking for a photo shoot, so that’s how I ended up photographing the lovely Ms R that you see in the image above.  I decided (for the first time) to use the guest bedroom in my tiny Custard Cottage but there is a tad too much direct light in there so I rushed out and bought two metres of voile/sheer curtaining to soften the light for the shoot.

Oh the pressure of a photo shoot! I am really apprehensive before each photo shoot, afraid that there will be no decent images, afraid the subject will think I don’t know what I’m doing and know I’m not a real photographer (not sure at what point one becomes a real photographer), afraid the images will be out of focus, afraid I won’t read the light properly, afraid I won’t connect with my subject –  I’M AFRAID OF LOOKING LIKE AN ASS AND FAILING.

I confess, I lied a teeny bit when I wrote the title to this post, “How to overcome the fear of photo shoot failure”, I don’t really know how to overcome it or even if it ever goes away but I DO know how to lessen the terror… BE PREPARED!


Practise models for a portrait shoot, man and woman, natural light

Practice a mini shoot on location with a stand-in model (like your long-suffering hubby or your friendly neighbour across the road – see image left) poor Terry, the things he does for love.  If you shoot in natural light, do your practice shoot at the same time of day as the proposed shoot.
Find out what your subject’s expectations are.  Do they want head and shoulder shots, full body, indoor or outdoor?
What do they intend wearing and what do they want the images for? A gift for mom or hubby, an entry into a competition, a wall portrait for home?
Make a short list of poses you want to use, don’t just wing it when your subject arrives.
Know the capabilities of your lens and what apertures you are going to use.
Give your subject some guidance with regard to clothing, make-up and accessories before the time.
Make sure you have a fully charged battery and a card in your camera an extra battery and card is also a good idea. Check you have all the equipment you need with you, scratching around for a reflector, lenses, a hairdryer, face powder and accessories just looks unprofessional.


As soon as the tummy butterflies start bouncing around inside your gut, breathe, breathe, breathe.  It’s amazing how calming two or three deep, slow breaths are.  Breathe in for the count of four, hold the breath for two counts and breathe out for a count of four.
Relax, just be yourself and take control of the session.
Remember to give your subject feedback and encouragement, “You’re doing great! That’s beautiful.”
Show, don’t tell, show your subject what you want them to do, don’t just tell them.

It turned out alright in the end and here are some images from the actual shoot with the beautiful Ms R…

Natural light portrait woman, western cape photographer, natural light photography

Natural light portrait woman, western cape photographer, natural light photography

Natural light portrait woman, western cape photographer, natural light photography

Natural light portrait woman, western cape photographer, natural light photography

I’m not saying that my way is the best or the only way but it works for me and every time I face my fear and do another shoot, I learn something new.  One of these days, if I’m not careful, I might just become a real photographer.

All my love

moi ♥


  1. Love, love, love Terry’s pose! Wonderful portraits!

    All these tips – yes, I use them too! Especially the “show them.” And no, I don’t think the butterflies every go away!


  2. Lovely photos! And love Terry’s pose pic, even crossed over the same one first as your friendly neighbour….eye for detail! Hope you’re all well. Love and hugs from the rock. Xxx


    1. Shame poor Terry but do you see that his pose is nearly the same as Elaine’s, his little feet are crossed behind him! I did make sure he was happy for me to post this image though, good thing he has a sense of humour 🙂



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.