I'm sure we all remember the stereotypical "photography studio" of yesteryear. Families enter into a smallish room in front of a roll of various backdrops, a camera set up on a tripod at the other side of the room and a photographer standing at the camera telling you all to say "cheese"? My philosophy on "say cheese" is you get cheesy results. If you want cheese, go to your local deli. If you want amazing photographic images that showcase who you are, hire a professional photographer who is willing to step out of the studio.
Thankfully, if you're in the market for some individual or family photography, you are no longer forced to choose only which studio you will go to. Professional photographers like myself, have come to realize that people don't want "cookie cutter images"; photos that look like every other person's photos. No. People want versatility, dynamics, emotion, drama, fun! In a studio-only setting, you get stuffy, cold, uncomfortable.
Think about it. Most people don't actually like being photographed. Why is that? Two reasons, in my opinion. One, it's because they often believe they aren't photogenic. Two, they don't believe another person is actually interested enough in making them look good that they just won't look good. Let's address both of those and how they relate to the topic of working outside of a studio for portraiture.
I think that absolutely everyone can be photogenic, meaning "look great in a picture". What do I mean? Well, a great portrait is something your family will treasure; your parents, your children and grandchildren. It says "this is me". It is emotive, showcases a part of you (like are you artistic, musical, athletic, etc), conveys a mood or is dramatic in some way. Images, specifically portraits, are a legacy that preserves who we are, in a manner of speaking, for oncoming generations to know a little bit about us.
This transcends "what do I look like". Sure, maybe not everyone looks like Brad Pitt or Halle Berry but, do you know what? You don't have to look like a glamorous movie star to create a wonderful portrait. A professional photographer worth her or his salt will be able to showcase anyone in the best possible way; posing to flatter, helping guide with clothing selection, props or locations to make you look your best. We can guide you with something as simple as a hand or head position to make you look amazing. This leads right into the second point...not everyone does have the ability to make you look your best and capture a flattering image. However, that's where a professional photographer steps in. If you don't look good, we don't look good! Literally, our entire motivation is the drive to make you look amazing.
So, for people who aren't comfortable with the idea of being in front of a camera, where do you think they will be the most relaxed and comfortable? Will it be in a room with studio lights and props and rolls of backdrops or is it more likely that they will be at ease someplace like at the beach or in a cafe or walking down the street or sitting in their living room? The same goes for children (of all ages). Is it more productive to try and make a toddler sit still on a stool on a posing table in a studio or will a better image be captured while they are running across the grass at a park while daddy chases?
Yes, studio images can still be high quality and I don't, personally, believe that studio photography is completely dead. It does have a place and I do love using my studio. However, I also say that the more relaxed a person is, no matter the age, the better their portraits will be. That's why I like working on location, so much and think that a lot of photographers have also moved that direction and said goodbye to the studio.
Feel free to share your own thoughts on this.