Secrets to Outdoor Portrait Photography by Aiman Asraf

“Photography lets you freeze the moments you can never get back, especially special emotions in that split second. If you’re able to capture that, you can cherish that forever.”  Aiman Asraf, professional photographer

Aiman Asraf photographer on Kaodim
Photo credit: Aiman Asraf (on the right)

Getting to know Aiman Asraf

It all started when Aiman Asraf’s father introduced him to old-school cameras – the kind where you needed to wait a long time for the film to get developed. Aiman was very young at the time and barely understood the process of film photography, but when digital photography came along, he got hooked right away because now he was able to view the images instantly.

So at age 16, he received his first point-and-shoot camera, a decent little thing that sparked his passion for the creative art. He started off as a school photographer, capturing shots of school events and performances until he scored his very first Nikon D5000 in college. Equipped with a legit DSLR and a newfound interest in portrait photography, Aiman began pursuing it actively in the final few semesters while studying at SUNY Buffalo, New York.

He’s spent years grooming his skills and studying the works of other great, notable photographers such as Ross Harvey, Ian Weldon and Daniel Zain, and his photographs reflect his talent for capturing emotions and beauty with the enhancement of fresh, natural light.

Photo credit: Aiman Asraf

We’re so privileged to have him on our platform as a photographer. He shot some stunning images of Sally*, who reached out to him on Kaodim for portraiture set against a natural setting, and Aiman suggested the KLCC park. Now every photographer knows that shooting outdoors under the mercy of the Malaysian sun can be tricky. We talked to him about the project and he shared some helpful tips on how photographers can capture the best angles of their subjects while making full use of the natural light available.

KAODIM: Hi Aiman. How has the experience of being on Kaodim been for you as a photographer?

I joined Kaodim in early 2016 when my friend, Alexis told me about it. It’s been great! Kaodim is a good platform for photographers like myself to find clients. The clients I’ve received are very receptive to creative ideas, just like Sally.

Photo credit: Aiman Asraf

Can you describe the photoshoot with Sally?

Sally listed her requirements through Kaodim. She contacted me and said she wanted a portraiture of herself outdoors – something fresh and different.  I suggested the KLCC park because it was beautiful. It was a quick and fun photoshoot, roughly about 30 minutes. She was very open to walking across the park to find good lighting and trying different ideas. Sally was very outgoing and open to suggestions of me trying different angles and locations to capture her at her best. Overall, she was fun to work with.

What are some tips you can provide about shooting portraiture?

The most important thing is that details matter, especially for female subjects. I try to make everything right. I pay close attention to her outfit and her hair. These are things you can avoid by being extra careful.

It can be awkward with silence, so the way to reduce this is to talk to your subject about general things. Give positive feedback to boost her confidence as well. When I started out, I didn’t know what to say, so it was really stressful. It’s okay if I become awkward because they laugh and it looks very natural on camera.

Hands play a major role in portraiture. You don’t want to see dead hands, so I’ll ask them to position them in a way. I’ll give them a few friendly instructions on posing and I’ll move around to capture different angles instead of asking them to move around too much.

Photo credit: Aiman Asraf

How do you work with challenging lighting situations outdoors?

Malaysia gets harsh light pretty easily. In Europe, lighting is softer (golden light). I would find an opportunity where the light gets diffused by buildings or trees. Sally and I had to walk through the park quickly before the sun went up too high. It was about 9.30 in the morning when we started our shoot.

What camera gear do you use?

Nikon D7500 and a range of lenses at 35 mm, 85 mm, 50 mm and 24-70 mm.

Photo credit: Aiman Asraf

What do you enjoy most about photographing people?

Photography lets you freeze the moments you can never get back, especially special emotions in that split second. If you’re able to capture that, you can cherish that forever. Getting to know other people and interact with them through photography is also something I look forward to.

Many people don’t understand why photographers “charge so much for photos.” As a photographer, how do you justify this?

Photography gear itself is expensive. It’s not cheap, so we have to compensate for the cost of our gear. The craft itself takes time to get good at. Most people think it’s easy but it’s not. It’s a culmination of years of practising and learning, and there’s so much to learn. As photographers, we spend a lot of time planning, shooting and editing, so we have to justify that in our cost to sustain ourselves and continue doing what we love. 

Photo credit: Aiman Asraf

So the next time you plan to get your headshots taken, engage professional photographers who have the right equipment and expertise. A good lens makes all the difference as it can capture the stunning depth-of-field effect that blurs out the background so the subject is drawn into a clear, strong focus.

All photographers and videographers on Kaodim are verified and background checked. Get free quotes from them when you submit a request on Kaodim! Just tell us what you need and we’ll link you with the right pros!

*Name have been changed for confidentiality

written by Carissa Gan