Secrets of Great Portrait Photography

Written by  on July 9, 2014 

One of the most interesting types of photography is that which features portraits. If you are just starting out as a photographer you might think that this is too complex a subject for you to handle but by understanding some of the key points you can get started and take some wonderful portrait shots.

Portrait Photography - Secrets of Great Portrait Photography
Image: flickr.com/photos/wbeem

Find the Most Interesting Perspective

If you put the camera right in front of the subject and take a shot at their eye level then you’ll get a fairly standard sort of image. If you want something more interesting then what you could do is try out a few different perspectives. Depending up their face, the background and the lighting you might find that shooting from above, below or the side gives you a far better result.

Use an Interesting Background

The background of the shot is something that not all first time portrait photographers pay enough attention to. You might be so busy concentrating on the subject’s face that you completely forget about what is in the background. However, it is very important to get this just right. For example, for a fun family photo you will want a different type of background than for a formal corporate shot. Having said that, playing around with images and having something unexpected in the background can intrigue the viewer and add a genuine point of interest. One way to get this right is to use a Lastolite collapsible background from Sharif Photographic and find the perfect background for the shot.

Make It Look Real and Natural

One thing to avoid is getting a fake, posed look for the shot. This will give you a stiff and awkward look for the image, which might make it look dated as well. Instead, you should look for a natural image that works well with the subject’s personality. If there is something they like doing as a hobby then one idea is to try incorporating this into the portrait. The more real and natural the photo looks the more people will be able to relate to it.

Have Them Look at Something

The subject’s eyes are among the most crucial parts of any portrait and the last thing you want is to have them staring vacantly. If they have great looking eyes then you might want to consider having them stare at the camera, in a way that grabs the viewer right away. Another useful tactic is to have them look at something off camera or in the shot. Either of these approaches can give you an intriguing image that is great to look at.

Get the Lighting Right

The right lighting is vital to any sort of photography but especially so when it comes to taking portraits. There are many different ways to use light in order to create a more visually arresting photo and you should try out a few of one to see which ones you like most. Don’t be afraid to do creative things like partially obscure their face or use imaginative lighting effects.

Keep Shooting

Finally, you can’t expect to just take one shot and get it right. You will want to take a series of snaps and then look to work out what makes some work more than others. Taking a series of shots also lets you see different facial expressions that could make a huge difference to the end result. The more images you take the more chance you have of getting one that is absolutely perfect. Don’t give up if the first ones aren’t great, though. As long as you learn from them and make the next ones better then you will get there in the end.

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