Many people think of portrait photography as a plain and dull experience where someone sits with a forced smile on and gets their portrait taken.
But you know that it’s much more than that!
Or at least you know that it can be if the photographer knows how to bring out the best in their subject 😉
Capturing the essence of a model and using a few simple techniques to enhance your photos can really help you produce stunning portraits.
We bet you’re dying to know how!
So, without further ado, let’s find out how you can take breathtaking portraits and master the art of portrait photography regardless of your equipment.
Trust Your Gut Feeling
Sure, technical know-how is important. And to come up with a great shot, you need to understand aperture, ISO, shutter speed, the rule of thirds, or how to make a subject look slimmer. Yet artistic know-how is equally, if not more important. Yep, sometimes going for the creative shot that does not exactly follow the rules is the best decision!
As a result, to take better portrait photos, not only will you need to be technical, but you’ll also need to tap into your intuitive understanding resulting from all the experiences, memories, and inspiration you have gathered over the years.
Combining your technique and your gut feeling will take your portrait photo from a great image to a one-of-a-kind compelling shot.
Focus on the Eyes
A photo will look and feel very different whether the subject is looking directly to the camera or away from the camera.
When the subject looks straight to the camera, it prompts a more confrontational experience but also helps create a connection with the viewer.
On the other hand, when a subject looks away from the camera, it makes the viewer wonder what they might be thinking or feeling and sucks them into the subject’s world. Therefore, a candid photo provides the audience with a more authentic type of experience.
If you’re taking portrait photos of a group, have people looking in different directions to help you capture a candid scene, but ask one person to look directly into the camera to help root the viewer into the scene and create a powerful connection.
Experiment with Lighting
The way you choose to light your portrait photos can really change the way a picture looks and feels. Whether you decide to harness the power of natural light, utilize an on-camera flash, or studio lighting, experimenting is key to improving your shots and creating better portraits.
For instance, using side lighting will add texture to the photo and help set a unique mood or ambiance to your portraits. Golden hour light can also create a certain mood while shooting on a cold winter morning can produce a completely different atmosphere.
Encourage your Subject to Be Natural
When facing a camera, most people prefer to smile. Yet, while smiling for a corporate headshot is a great idea, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the case for portrait photography. Indeed, smiling can sometimes be a facade.
Now, to improve your portraits, you’ll need to be able to break the mask and capture a true representation of your model. A great thing to do is to observe what they do and how they move or interact when they’re not in front of the camera and use these cues as your guide to pose them. To get your subject to relax, prepare your camera’s settings and chat with them while shooting. This will prevent them from focusing on the camera and allow you to capture their essence as they interact with you.
We hope that we got you pumped up and ready to jump right in and implement these tips for your next portrait photoshoot!
If you’re looking for more tips and tricks for better portrait photography, check out our blog on natural hair in portrait photography and candid photography and how to perfect it.