An epic photo starts with a little personality, a lot of natural lighting and a good camera lens. Okay, an iPhone was used to take the above picture. And of course I didn't photoshop that! ;)
I use this Canon lens for nearly all my portraits.
For my little brother Joey, I took him to our ski hill and photographed him with about five different backgrounds using natural lighting but no direct sunlight. Each of these photos was taken during the middle of the day but in the shade (to eliminate over exposure).
I researched poses ahead of time so I could tell him how to stand, sit, and so forth.
And of course, he brought his own pose ideas...