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Portrait Photography - 10 Tips to Capture Great Portraits

1. Make your subject comfortable

Portrait photography is all about understanding people and capturing their character, life style, and mood in an attractive and pleasing way. So the first step to take good portraits is to get to know your subject well. When photographing strangers spend some time talking to them, explain what you intent to shoot, establish a certain comfort level where in both you and your subject trust each other and only then lay your hands on your camera. Once you take the first few shots review it, show it to the subject and then suggest improvisations like experimenting with a different pose, placement of hands, expressions or asking them to look in a particular direction. You will see that your subject responds well to your suggestions and it makes for a pleasant shooting experience for both of you.

Portrait Photography
Photo By zanotti

2. Don’t let your subject blink

Many times it happens that an otherwise lovely shot is totally destroyed by the subject blinking at the right moment. The problem is more when you are shooting a group of people. One person with his eyes closed could completely spoil the shot. So tell your group that you are going to take the shot, if necessary ask them to blink twice, then count to three loudly and then click, you now have your perfect blink free group shot.

3. Make your subject hold something if they do not know where to place their hands

Even small things in a portrait photograph can impact the over look and feel of the image. It is often noticed that the people, especially when they are tense, have a habit to hold their hands clenched or to pull at the sleeves of the dress. And what it could do to a portrait photo is disastrous. So if your subject is not sure about where to place their hands, give them something to hold. Introduce a prop if it is relevant to the shot and is not distracting.

Portrait Photography
Photo By manywalls

4. Focus on the eyes

While looking at a portrait photograph the first thing that the viewers eyes travel to is the eyes of the subject. So that makes the eyes undoubtedly the most important component in a portrait photo. Focus on the eyes of the subject, make sure they are pin sharp and consider half of your job done.

Portrait Photography
Photo By chishikilauren

5. Pre-focus to catch the moment

Shift your camera to manual focus and pre-focus on an approximate area to shoot random, busy activity. This way you could save precious time and ensure that the camera clicks on the exact second you press the trigger. Else the camera tries to attain focus and wastes precious time resulting in mistimed shots. Using a narrow aperture like f/11 will increase the depth of field and also make sure that everything in the frame will be in focus.

Portrait Photography
Photo By paulbence

6. Do not forget the catch light

A Catch light is like a twinkle in the eyes, simply put it is the highlight that appears in our eyes when a light source is reflected off the surface of the eye. Though tiny, this highlight gives the eyes life and adds depth and dimension to the eye in a portrait. Without catch lights even otherwise beautiful portraits appear dull and lifeless.

Portrait Photography
Photo By rmrr21

7. Get down on the ground

Remember the tip that advises you to shoot from the subject’s eye level while shooting kids and pets. Let’s try a different variation, if your camera supports live shooting put it in live mode and hold it very near to the ground, else don’t hesitate, lie down and compose your frame you’ll be seeing your subject from an entirely different angle that is bound to generate interest.

Portrait Photography
Photo By Kasienka

8. Use a Birds Eye View

Just try the opposite of the tip given above and you will get an entirely different view, stretch your camera high above and ask your subjects to look up at the camera. Since the common rule of taking portrait photographs are to shoot at eye level, altering the shooting angle completely could add the wow factor to your portraits.

Portrait Photography
Photo By stefano-sannia

9. Make Stunning Black and White Portraits

Experiment with Black and White while trying out formal portraits, Black and white photographs tends to have a classical look about them. Also some shots that appear rather unattractive in colour turn out to be absolute gems when simply converted to grey scale. This is especially true for shots that have a lot of cluttered background shades in them.

Portrait Photography
Photo By manyrivers

10. Portrait Photography is not just about the Smiles

A good portrait is all about correctly conveying the exact moods and expressions of the subject. Get creative with expressions and ask your subject to convey as many emotions as possible, ask him / her to change his / her expression from bored, sad, happy, exalted, thinking, confused, determined etc. you could never guess what expression suits your subject the most. You could even end up discovering some hidden acting talents in your subject.

Portrait Photography
Photo By TeeRish

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