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How to keep portraits simple yet classy

“Keep Portraits Simple and Elegant, here’s how”

One2One Photography

Let me share with you one of my favourite quotes, as stated in that quote, there are three key factors to achieve massive success in your life:

There is a desire to overdo it with portraits. We know because we do it all the time simply for fun. However, sometimes keeping it basic and going for classy, yet simple photos is enough of a treat in and of itself.


Keeping it simple

We love doing outrageously inventive portraits; they’re a lot of fun. The costumes, hair and makeup, decorations and accessories, and set design… It’s fantastic. Clients, on the other hand, are not always interested in this. They may only want basic, elegant photos that can be utilised for business, social media, personal branding, and other purposes.


It doesn’t mean these aren’t beautiful portraits; they’re just simple and let your subject shine. We primarily used two lenses in this studio session: a Tamron 28-200mm telephoto zoom lens (yes, a zoom lens) and a Sony 85mm f/1.8 lens. We had two cameras, so we had a lens on each and simply switched between them.

Setup Studio Flash Diagram

Background is simple.

A simple white seamless paper background was employed. It’s simple to put on and take off, and it’s wrinkle-free, but be careful with heels because it’s easily destroyed. It gives your photographs a great clarity and makes your subject stand out.

We also have a dark charcoal paper backdrop (not featured here). Both backgrounds are 9 by 36 feet in size. You may, however, acquire them in a variety of sizes to suit your needs.

Set the stage

We used two Godox Wistro 400 Pro lights in a two-light arrangement. We like them because they run on batteries and have no cords. Our main light was a 36-inch octobox, and our fill light was a 16-inch beauty dish. A white background has the extra benefit of acting as a reflector.


Alternatively, if none of your light touches the background, it can get pretty dark. We could have utilised a separating or rim light as well, but we elected not to.


Examine your options.

Once you’ve styled your scene and set the lights, it’s time to double-check that everything is in working order. We normally do all of this while the customer is getting her hair and cosmetics done. Our Godox Wistro 400 Pros were set to 32 power, and our Sony a7 III was set to Manual mode, ISO 200, 1/125s, with a focal length range of 32mm–65mm (a zoom lens comes in useful here). We validated the aperture at f/4 using our light metre. We also utilised our grey card to calibrate the white balance.

Simple clothing

We chose a black suit, pants, vest, and jacket for this shoot because it was inspired by Madonna’s 1990 Vogue video clip. We also added a flirtatious touch by not wearing a shirt underneath the jacket. The only accessories she wore were a simple set of drop diamond earrings and black heels.


Makeup and hair are kept simple.

Em Marietta, our hair and makeup artist, did a wonderful job with the vintage-styled finger waves; we kept the makeup very simple and added a burst of colour with a classic red lipstick.


Props that are easy to make

We also utilised a black cap and a soft grey ottoman… that’s all there was to it.