Senior Portrait Photography: Tethered Shooting Guide

Posted by: on Apr 26, 2016 | 2 Comments
Photo Courtesy of Trenten Kelley
Photo Courtesy of Trenten Kelley

Senior portrait photography can be difficult at times. As a photographer, you’re capturing a special moment in someone’s life, but that person is an untrained model who you must coach through the shoot. Unlike shooting a wedding, you’re not depending on raw emotion and the model’s willingness and joy to be there.

The other factor at play is the parents. As a portrait photographer you know that most parents want to be involved in the shoot, or at minimum, the selection of the images. Shooting tethered can make your life as a portrait photographer so much easier. You can show your model a series of images, each with different poses and discuss what you’d like them to do in the next series. There is also certain aura of professionalism that comes with shooting tethered. You’re respecting your client’s time, you’re producing a higher quality of images, and the end result is a satisfied customer.

On-Location Solutions

Everything you do is for the convenience of the senior and the parent, and shooting tethered allows your clients to be an active part of the shoot. Your client can be on location, check the shots as you go, but won’t be in the way – instead at a computer or tablet. You can even utilize a tethered workflow that allows your clients to view your shots on the web from anywhere in the world using Lightroom. If your parent can’t make it out to the shoot, no problem – they can view your shots remotely.

Here’s a couple pieces of gear that we highly recommend for on-location portrait shooting:

RapidMount SLX

Speedlights have their pros and cons, but one thing is for certain: they’re a powerful way to light on-location. If one of those cons for you is lugging around heavy lightstands, consider picking up a few RapidMount SLX.

The SLX is a multi-surface speedlight holder that mounts off-camera flashes to a wall and other surfaces using the included specially-formulated, pressure-activated RapidMount adhesive strips. The SLX stays securely attached to the wall while the arms cradle your speedlight and drawstring keeps it in place.


iPad & Android Tablet Holders

Provide your parent an option to look at photos, without hovering over your shoulder with the Tether Tools BlackRapid TabStrap with iPad Case + Connect Lite Bracket. Tether Tools also offers the AeroTab Universal Tablet System which is compatible with most all small tablets including the Microsoft Surface, iPad, Android, and other tablet models. Pairing the AeroTab with a BlackRapid Strap & DRing offers the same hands-free benefits.


ThinkTank Photo Pixel SunScreen

Shooting outside can make viewing images on your laptop difficult. This is why we recommend the ThinkTank Photo Pixel Sunscreen as the ideal complement to any Tether Table. The sunshade eliminates reflections and glare on the laptop screen and keeps the viewing area dark.



In-Studio Solutions

You know the old adage “time is money” – well that rings true for you and your clients. Shooting tethered can help fine-tune image quality and simplify the selection process. Your parents can be in-studio, checking shots as you go, and you’ll all know the shot is perfect in a fraction of the time that it might take otherwise.

Here’s a couple pieces of gear that we highly recommend for in-studio portrait shooting:

Tether Table Aero System

The Tether Table Aero System allows photographers to build a workstation that works with their unique needs. Not sure how you might incorporate a Tether Table Aero into your workflow? It’s simple. Start with any tripod, lightstand, c-stand, or arm and add a stable, lightweight, and portable Tether Table laptop platform and accessorize and customize the setup as you see fit. The Aero Series’ state-of-the-art design and functionality offers integrated mounting onto any 1/4″-20 tripod head, 3/8″ tripod mount, 5/8″ stud studio stand or Arca-style mounting attachment. The Tether Table Aero Standard mounts to any stand, tripod or arm in just a few seconds, no adapters needed using the attached LAJO-4.


Tether “T” Setup

Perfect for school portrait photographers, the Tether “T” Setup combines the Rock Solid Cross Bar Side Arm and Rock Solid Tripod Cross Bar to create an ideal setup that allows for simple adjustments to the vertical bar, covering just about any situation. You’ll keep your gear close by, having your camera and table where you want it, when you need it!


Looking to learn more about shooting tethered? Read our Top 5 Educational Resources for Tethered Photography.
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