Sep 1, 2022
A well-crafted portrait is a beautiful thing, and this week’s podcast takes a deep dive into creating individual, group, and family portraits, both on location and in the studio. Our guests are master portraitists Monica Sigmon and Michael Taylor, co-owners of SigmonTaylor Photography in Williamsburg, Virginia. Please join us for tips on everything from how to arrive at a signature style when working on location to the practicalities and pitfalls of establishing a dedicated portrait studio and turning client’s heads in today’s competitive marketplace.
After listening, if you’re still hungry for more portrait photography insights, look no further than Sigmon Taylor’s six-part series Portrait Studio Intensive, produced by the B&H Event Space in February 2022.
Guests: Monica Sigmon and Michael Taylor
Photograph © Sigmon Taylor
For more information on our guests and the gear they use,
2:37: How does one arrive at a signature style when shooting portraits in an infinite variety of different locations?
4:03: Building a visual library and exploring your photographic personality to make your portraits stand out.
5:52: Location portraits are more about the story you are telling than what the background looks like.
6:49: Use of lighting conditions as a common thread in defining your signature portrait style.
8:40: How to establish a high-end portrait niche and deliver the goods from the start. Creating work and an experience the client will love.
11:14: Every portrait is a self-portrait, and the value of stepping back to look inside yourself.
13:24: The skill of cultivating an interest in your subjects. People all have stories to tell.
14:18: Tips for expanding from an individual portrait to a group session, and the importance of scheduling a preliminary design session.
16:20: The smallest children rule the day. Keeping the attention of the adults while keeping the children entertained.
17:26: The portrait photographer as symphony conductor. How to take control of the portrait session and bring everything together in a single moment.
21:52: Valuable advice for new portraitists: Understand your limitations and have joy in what you are doing.
22:26: How to even the playing field when photographing powerful subjects who are hesitant to relinquish control.
27:30: Getting out of your own head and being in service to someone else.
27:58: Compositing elements within a group portrait: Is or isn’t it cheating?
30:19: Commanding the set and taking the time to finesse the pose. Anticipating the rhythm and flow of a shoot.
33:33: Number one creativity killer: Feeling rushed for time. Slow down and manage expectations.
34:44: An inside look at the design consultation: Establishing the rules of engagement.
36:10: Making the sale up front: Explaining to the client what their investment will be.
41:12: Working on spec vs invitational portfolio building to create the work you want to shoot next.
43:44: Episode break
44:42: How practical is establishing a dedicated portrait studio today?
46:28: Creating a unique style to turn peoples’ heads and make them into clients.
46:44: Can higher prices result in increased sales?
48:22: A fair payday leads to a different attitude and better pictures.
50:12: Finding a feasible studio space to work in: Renting space vs a brick-and-mortar address.
53:18: A creative approach to personalizing your office in a neutral space.
55:18: The creation of Sigmon Taylor’s signature look: Black Label portraits.
57:31: The Black Label lighting style: A marriage of classical lighting with a contemporary personality.
1:00:08: Vehicles for Sigmon Taylor portraits: Prints, wall portraits, and coffee table books.
1:01:33: Digital files of client portraits: Selling them vs gifting them.
1:03:15: Sigmon Taylor’s approach to printing portraits through relationships with various labs across the country.
1:05:50: Photographers show too many images. Do not put images online.
1:06:24: Considerations for camera gear when establishing a portrait studio.
1:09:34: Effective portrait studio lighting: Profoto and Elinchrom One.
1:11:40: Connect with Sigmon Taylor on social media.
Studio Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sigmontaylor/
Monica’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/monicasigmon/
Michael’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michaelglentaylor
Twitter Feed: https://twitter.com/monicaandmike
Sigmon Taylor’s six-part Portrait Studio Intensive: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/find/eventDetails.jsp/id/4063