My photo
... is a freelance photographer working in Middle Georgia

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tips For Better Portraits



Know your subject. People are a lot more comfortable doing something they like or enjoy.
If your dad enjoys fishing take him to the lake, or at least get him with his fishing gear.
If your subject is invloved with an activity, they will be more relaxed, and at ease. Be
sure you can see their eyes. In a portrait, the eyes always need to be in focus.

Shoot from your subjects eye level or lower. Makes a more pleasing photo, the
viewer can relate better to your subject.

Try for soft light. But be sure it is good light. Watch for shadows. You don’t want to
have splotches on your subject. Use windows, open doors. Get in the shade. Make use of backlight(get a halo) Avoid shooting outside at high noon.

Use fill flash in the daytime if you need it. Giving the portrait subject a little extra light will help bring the person out as the central element in the frame. Flash often ads a little sparkle to the eyes, and reduces harsh shadows on the face.




You can also use a white card to reflect light back onnto your subject’s face. You can buy
reflectors, but they are easy to make. A large white card at least two feet square. You can also use a car windshield reflector.

Watch the background for distractions. No trees coming out of their head. Watch for reflections from your flash.

Get close. A good portrait can almost always be made better by getting closer and tighter.
Sure, you can crop in the computer, but you get better results doing it in the viewfinder.

Vary the angle you shoot from. Don’t stand in the same place for all your shots.




Vary your poses, but keep them simple. Be in control, be confident. But don’t be bossy.

Shooting two subjects together? Keep the faces on the same plane so they are both in focus. Keep them fairly close together.

Go telephoto. At the telephoto end of the focal range, perspective gets less distorted and
slightly flattened. This gives a more pleasing and attractive portrait than one taken with a
wide angle. For the basic headshot a 105-135mm tends to work well.

Try using the portrait mode if your camera has one. It will make the background less
obtrusive and usually renders skin tones nicely.





Turn the camera sideways so you are shooting some vertical. Most people are more vertical than horizontal.

Don’t put their face in the very middle of the frame so there is lots of empty space above their head, and most of their torso chopped off.



Have some poses and locations in mind before you start shooting.Look at magazines of ideas. The ads have some really cool images. Keep your subject comfortable. Get feedback.

Use props. This can relax your subject.

Photographing children...Just let them play. Follow them around and keep shooting.
When you are photographing kids and animals get down low-on their level. If a kids is
upset, wait for another day.

And, oh, get in closer.

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