The state of portrait photography today is a free-for-all. The traditional highly experienced photographer has relied on a known variety of techniques in lighting and posing to achieve successful portraits. The newer photographer can design their portraits based on the newest trends or something they saw by someone else, but only if they have the skills or patience to learn it. Every photographer must use a combination of personal style and well thought out lighting to design a portrait the customer will like.
Customers select a portrait photographer based on a referral, an ad, social media or they've always used the same photographer. Photographers need to know what particular style the customer is looking for and what is the reason for the portrait. We all agree the goal of the photographer is to please their customer and do what they're looking for without sacrificing something.
Years ago I attended a few lectures by the master photographer Joyce Tenneson. Ms. Tenneson will take a limited amount of portraits based on getting to know her subject intimately before proceeding. Upon completion of the session, she will select and present her client with her final choice. Period. Few of us have the luxury of selecting the final portrait without the customers say, but Ms. Tenneson has the ability to create and interpret a portrait through her understanding and commitment to the craft.
There's more to being a portrait photographer than just taking a picture. And it should be more than just placing your subject or subjects in front of backdrop and shooting. For you to succeed and prosper you must study today's trends and understand past photographers to become a skilled practitioner. Every successful photographer before 2005 made some major effort to study photography. Starting out, they attended as many workshops as they could and practiced with whatever equipment they could afford to accomplish the job. Passion isn't enough today to please your customers. We must give this field everything we got to remain a respected profession and only the most skilled will succeed.