Only in very rare occasions I made shots where the main subject was a person, usually I added people only to add scale to the image :))
So I need your help and ideas. I will make some photos with a girl, but I have very little experience making these kind of images. I don't know what to tell her how to pose, where to look, what to wear..... When is the right time to make outdoor portraits, what background to choose? Usually what kind of photos do girls like when they are photographed?
My goal at this moment is not produce high quality stock, but to make her happy with the images.
CreativeLive.com is offering a free online course July 6-8 called "The Business of High School Senior Photography." While some of the information presented will be about the actual business side of things, they will also be doing studio and outdoor photo shoots during the course. I've attended these before and they're usually pretty good. Plus, you can ask questions via chat while the workshop is going on. That may help you if you can wait that long.
Shooting high school seniors (not for stock) is what I shoot more than anything else. I sometimes shoot local model portfolios (but it doesn't pay near as good so I tend to avoid them). One set of guidelines won't cut it for everyone. To maximize your sales for each client, you need to discuss exactly what the client wants and then tailor the shoot for them. You also need to know who is paying for it. If a parent is paying and has different likes then you need to shoot 2 ways .. because you are essentially selling to 2 people now.
Time of day .. depends a lot on your locations and equipment. During busy times of the summer I will shoot up to a dozen clients on location in one day. Location scouting is key and it's good to find central locations that offer multiple backgrounds, which are best used at various times of the day. That way no matter what time a day you have a client there, you have spots to use. Reflectors and artificial light are very important. I normally carry a 4x6 foot white reflector (for blocking light + a little bounce) and a flash with a Gary Fong Collapsible Light Sphere at all times.
What to wear & What Background to use .. backgrounds are based on what you originally learned about what your client likes. Do they like graffiti or flowers or both? Do they want urban trend or country girl looks? and so on .. When I meet the client, first thing I do is spend about 5 mins looking through their clothes and thinking about what outfits will look best with the backgrounds I have in the locations I will be using for the session. Learn the color wheel and what complimentary colors are. That will give you a good start.
Poses ... again depends on the client. You need to ask. The main thing is they want to look pretty. The eyes need to always pop. Good posture .. no hump backs. Instruct them to point their toes when sitting or their feet are hang in over something (always think ballerina). Never let their hands just hang limp beside them. Hook a thumb in a pocket, use their hips (never at equal heights like a superman pose), hang on to scarfs, jackets, hoodies, etc. etc. Use fill flash and don't stick them out in direct sunlight with no modifiers. You just need to experiment a lot here and you honestly learn as you go .. what looks stupid and what looks awesome. There is one exception. If a parent is involved in paying for these photos, such as a high school senior or sweet 16 session, then CLOSE UP HEADSHOTS .. get a good small selection of these .. look for angles where you are slightly above the client and they are looking up into the camera. You want a happy innocent look, bright eyes and a smile for these shots. The image will make the parent have a flashback. The kid is at the age where the parent knows they will be leaving home soon and this reminds them of when they were still a little kid, totally dependent on them and always having to look up at them. This can be your pose that pays off $500-$1000 for just one single print because the parent wants a big framed wall portrait of it.
Find some inspiration ... go outside of the micro stock world to find it. 99% of what you see in micro does not go over in the portrait world, especially with teens !!! They think it's about as lame as you can possibly get. Real people pay heavily for artistic portraits not white backgrounds and commercialism.