Whether the shoot takes place in a studio or on location, if you are looking to level up your portrait photography you need to understand what makes a great portrait. Getting the eyes in sharp focus is key – this can create a connection between the subject and viewer.
Also, lighting is important – direct midday sun can be harsh so try shooting at sunrise or sunset or using diffused light.
1. Focus on the eyes
The eyes are the most important part of any portrait. They express a lot of emotion, and it’s important to capture them in sharp focus. There are many ways to do this, including using a shallow depth of field and choosing the right lens. It’s also important to pay attention to the lighting. If possible, use natural light, and try to avoid harsh shadows or highlights.
Whether you’re photographing a model, senior, child, or pet, the key to a great portrait is capturing their personality. This can be done by guiding them to pose naturally and allowing them to express themselves. It’s also important to make them feel comfortable. This will allow them to relax, which will result in a more natural and engaging photo.
Another way to make your subjects more comfortable is by offering them snacks or water. This will help them stay hydrated and alert, which will improve their performance in front of the camera. It’s also important to keep the environment comfortable by avoiding crowded spaces and loud music. This will prevent your subject from feeling distracted and will make them more likely to look at the camera.
In addition to focusing on the eyes, it’s also important to use a wide angle lens to ensure that the whole face is in sharp focus. This will create a more balanced image and will help your subject stand out from the background. Also, make sure to use a spot or center-weighted metering mode when taking portraits. This will allow the camera to ignore overly bright or dark areas of the scene and will give you the best chance of capturing crisp, clear images.
Finally, don’t forget to use post-processing to enhance the appearance of your subjects’ eyes. A little bit of contrast, highlight, and shadow adjustment can go a long way in making your subject’s eyes pop. Just be careful not to overdo it, as too much manipulation can make the eyes look unnatural. By following these simple tips, you can create stunning portraits that will capture your subject’s personality and attract the viewer’s attention.
2. Create a natural look
When shooting a portrait it’s important to capture the subject in a natural, flattering light. This is because harsh light can cause shadows on the face and make the subject look unnatural. To avoid this, try to use a soft light that is diffused by clouds. Additionally, you should avoid using a flash to illuminate your subject because it will create too much contrast in the skin. Instead, you should utilize a reflector to bounce some of the light back onto your subject to help eliminate unflattering shadows.
The background is also an important factor to consider when creating a portrait. A busy or distracting background will draw attention away from your subject. To create a more natural looking background, try to find a location with a plain or simple backdrop. You can also experiment with different poses to create an interesting composition. For example, you can try to frame your subject in a way that highlights an aspect of their body such as their hands or feet. Lastly, you can use props to add texture and interest to your photo. For example, you could use a scarf to create interesting shadows or a flower to give your subject a pop of color.
To achieve a more natural look, you can also try to use a wide aperture to blur the background of your image. However, be careful because a wide aperture can cause other parts of your subject’s body to become out of focus. If this happens, you can use a Photoshop plugin called NIK blur to sharpen the image and bring back the details of your subject’s eyes.
Another tip to remember when shooting a portrait is to use the right aperture value. Generally, you want to use an aperture value that is higher than f/2.8 to ensure that your subject’s eyes are in focus. Additionally, you should also keep in mind that the larger the aperture, the more the background will appear blurred. So, be sure to test out different aperture values before choosing the one that works best for your portrait.
3. Make the subject feel comfortable
A portrait session can be stressful for most people, even if they’re used to having their picture taken. In order to get the best results, your subject needs to feel comfortable. Having a warm and friendly demeanor will make them feel at ease and will help them forget about the camera. To do this, break the ice by making small talk over the course of the shoot. This will let them know that you’re interested in them as a person, and will give them something to talk about if they’re feeling apprehensive about the shoot.
It’s also important to pay attention to your subject’s body language. For example, if they’re fidgeting or adjusting their clothes, it may be because they’re nervous. In this case, it’s a good idea to offer them some advice on how to relax their body. For example, telling them to breathe deeply and exhale can help calm them down. Another way to relax a subject is to give them an object to hold. This will take their focus off of the camera and onto what they’re holding. For example, handing a child a large lollipop will keep them focused on the treat and will help to relax them.
Lastly, it’s important to use the rules of composition in your portraits. For example, arranging your subjects with their heads at the points of a triangle is often considered to be a good composition. Similarly, positioning the subjects’ eyes toward empty space will create a sense of tension and mystery, which can make for an engaging image.
In addition to following the above tips, you can also experiment with unconventional techniques to add a unique look to your portraits. This can include challenging conventions in terms of composition, lighting, and posing. For example, you might try using a softbox or reflector to create a dramatic and interesting effect. You can also try using a wide aperture to blur the background of your image. This technique can make the subject stand out and create a more natural-looking image.
4. Make the subject laugh
During portrait shoots, it is important to make the subject feel comfortable. One way to do this is to make them laugh. This will help them to relax and be more willing to smile naturally for the camera. It is also important to make sure that the subject is happy with the end result of the photo shoot. By doing this, they will be more likely to be satisfied with the photos and to recommend you to others.
Many people think that they need to smile for photographs in order to look beautiful, but this is not always the case. In fact, smiling for pictures can actually make them look more unnatural and fake than if they were not smiling at all. The best way to get a genuine smile is to make the subject laugh. This can be done by telling a joke or by simply asking them to have fun during the shoot.
Another way to make the subject smile is to give them a compliment. If you tell them that they have a great smile or that their outfit is nice, this will often make them break into a natural smile. Also, if you are shooting a group of subjects, it is often easier to get a natural smile by making them laugh together. This can be done by telling a funny story or by singing songs that aren’t quite in key.
Getting a natural smile can be difficult, but with a little practice, it is possible. By using these tips, you can create a more flattering image of your subject and help them to look their very best. Remember that a good portrait is not just about smiling, but it is about showing the true character and personality of the person. So, get out there and start practicing the different techniques that have been discussed in this article! You will be amazed at the results.