Mar 17, 2010

Portrait Photography Tips

Usually budding photographers, as well as those who have already been shooting for awhile, are usually wanting the same thing. They want to shoot admirable photographs that create the "wow" response. It is not often an straightforward thing to undertake, since beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Yet, it is not impossible, and rather than sticking to rules, sometimes it is necessary to break them. Be casual and brazenly follow your gut to come up with that exceptional photograph that makes everyone stop and take notice.
1. Experiment with Lighting - The possibilities are endless with lighting. You are hindered only by your imagination and aptitude to be creative. There is no good and bad. So go ahead and mess with the lighting. You may surprise yourself. Back-light, sidelight, silhouette, the possibilities are unbounded.
2. Don't Stage the Shot - Photographing candid pictures is often better than posing the subject. People, and kids in particular are inclined to tense up and hide rather than reveal their personality when the picture is staged and they are required to pose. Shoot your grown-ups while they work or toddlers while they play. Try to capture them reacting normally to their environment.
3. Vary the Frame of Reference - More often than not portraits are done with the camera at eye level. Adjust the aspect by varying the angle from which you are photographing. Get up high over your subject for one effect. From that site you may be able to behold an even more refreshing scene. Mess around with your composition.
4. A Part of the Whole - Try focusing on just a part of the scene, for example, instead of photographing the head and shoulders of your subject, shoot their back, or their hands, or maybe even a shoulder with a special tattoo, keeping the face in shadow. Be bold and dramatic. Sometimes what is left out of the scene is as important as what is left in.
5. Mess around with the Eyes - Eye contact or the angle in which the eyes are tending powerfully affects the effect of the portrait. Looking directly into the camera isn't always the most pleasing way to capture a subject. It may be more pleasing to have the person look away from the camera, drawing those who look at the resulting photo to wonder what's there, off camera, unseen. But be careful how you do this, because drawing the viewer's eyes to the side also takes their eyes off your subject.
6. Variation on a Theme - Partially covering your subject in order to focus on one particular property works well too. In other words, concealing a lady in a shawl leaving only her eyes visible and looking at the camera. Possibly making the shawl match the eyes of the subject making for a dramatic color effect.
7. Composition Rules - Composition rules as described in these portrait photography tips, are made to be followed and broken. The rules are great to know and to use, but stretching them, or propelling to their limits makes for a more dramatic portrait. Learn the rules, get comfortable using them, then learn to break them in order to achieve a more dramatic result.
8. Move the Subject - Stunning portraits happen when you take the subject out of his or her comfort zone. Make the subject move. Put them in clothing or in a setting where you wouldn't ordinarily find them. Surround them with stuff that says who they are, but make them react differently to it. For instance, put them in business clothing in an office, but have them jump up and down or read a book upside down. Again, be artistic.
9. Staying Focused within the Frame - Namely, have your subject holding something, like a woman holding a toddler, or a child grasping an item assists in keeping the viewer's eyes focused inside the frame and on the subjects. It creates a second point of focus and helps to create a story within the frame with the main subject.
10. Using Props - Enhance your shot by creating another focal point with a prop. For example, if you are photographing a doctor, have them wear a pair of scrubs or hold a skull. Be careful not to let the prop dominate the picture, let it be part of the picture telling part of the story.
The prospects for taking WOW photographs are limited only by your capability to think outside the box. Know the rules, know how to work them, then learn how to break them for a more alluring portrait. Finally, take a series of shots... not just one... shoot often and quick... sometimes, in order to get what you were looking for.