Portrait Photography with Graham Monro

Dan Eitreim

January 21, 2015

If you are happy with a portrait photograph that shouts ‘say cheese’ then you don’t need to read on. If you want to add pizzazz to your portraits by adding the x-factor then here are some top portrait tips.

Whether it’s intentional or not most of us take portrait photographs in some form or other. This is because we are shooting images of family and friends most of the time. So putting the x-factor into portraits should be your top priority. Portraits are not police mugshots as many photos tend to end up as. You are creating memories. Here are some tips that will help add pizzazz to your portraits.

1. Planning and preparation

Knowing who you are going to shoot and where it’s going to be is essential to the planning of a successful portrait shoot. There is a big difference between a children’s session and a senior citizens. You’ll need to know what props to use and other factors like lighting and how to interact. Good preparation is often the success of any session.

2. Emphasize the eyes

Eyes, some say, are the windows to the soul. You can tell a lot about a person by just looking at their eyes. So pay careful attention to your subject’s eyes. They should be sharp and in focus all the time. Don’t always have the subject looking directly at the camera. Let them look above, to the side or stare into the distance. Always have them looking into the image and remember that the viewer will always follow the eyes of the subject.

3. Use props

Allow your subject to have some sort of prop. Not only does this contextualise the subject but it also relaxes them knowing that they have something familiar in their hands. This is especially true of children holding their favourite toy or book. It’s there as a comfort or a prop and should never distract from the point of the photo, the subject.

4. Change your viewpoint or perspective

Don’t only shoot at eye level. Try other perspectives and angles. Shoot from above, below and to the side of the subject’s eyeline. A frontal viewpoint is the norm and very average. So try to be a little more radical and experiment with different and more interesting perspectives.

5. Staging is a no no

Even if you are in a studio for the purpose of shooting a portrait don’t overpose or stage the photo. The reason candid shots are so popular is because they are better and more interesting to the viewer. Having fun and looking more natural creates a far more exciting image than traditional poses.

6. Experiment with lighting

There is no right way to light your portraits. Use your creativity and try out new lighting positions. Vary the position of the lighting. Move your subject closer. Change the angle of reflectors or add filters. Then of course there is the great outdoors. Each of us has our own unique style so use it. Don’t copy other photographers before you know your own style.

7. Creative composition

Don’t be afraid to experiment with composing your portrait image. Rules of composition are made to be broken only if it works and the composition is outstanding. Don’t break them just because you want to. Once you know the rules then try to push the limits and boundaries. A good portrait photographer knows when to follow them and when to break them.

8. Get your subject moving

If you’ve ever seen a fashion shoot you’ll know that the photographer gets the model moving. It relaxes and gets them out of their comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to be a director and get your subject doing things. You’ll be surprised at the results.

9. Get in close

Look at some fashion magazines and see how many cover photos have been shot full face or very close to it. People want to see portraits close up and as much detail as possible. Not blemishes but interesting detail which isn’t revealed in a full length shot. Focus on an interesting or beautiful feature or perhaps a piece of jewellery they are wearing. Getting in close is what makes the memories. This also helps to exclude clutter and distracting elements in the scene.

10. Communicate with your subject

Many people feel awkward and uncomfortable when having to sit for a portrait. Communicate with them and let them know exactly what you want. Be a director and place them where you want them and doing the things that add to a good quality image. By communicating, you also relax the subject and eventually you may find they no longer notice the camera.

Portraits are really rewarding and by following these simple steps you will add pizzazz and the x-factor missing from many traditional portraits. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Happy shooting!

Do you want to learn more about photography in a digital world? I’ve just completed a brand new e-course delivered by e-mail. Download it here for free: www.21steps2perfectphotos.com To learn how you can take your photography from ordinary to outstanding visit www.21steps2perfectphotos.com/21steps.htmWayne Turner has been teaching photography for 25 years and has written three books on photography.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

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