Whether it’s a friend, family member, a model, or a perfect stranger, a well taken portrait tells us stories, creates some mystery or brings up some memories. Good portraits also reveal the true personality of someone. So how does a photographer capture a good portrait? Below are some tips and tricks.
Background plays a vital role in a portrait. A portrait is all about someone’s face. So it’s important to have a background which doesn’t interfere with the subject. A simpler and less cluttered background works better for portraits. However, sometimes surroundings may need to be considered to bring out the personality of the subject. For example, if you’re taking a photo of a teacher, you may want to do it in the classroom where you see stacks of books or a chalkboard. Including them in the background will establish identity. However, the background doesn’t have to be prominent. Make it blurred or dimmed by focusing on the subject. This can be accomplished by using a zoom lens like the Canon EF 75-300mm F4-5.6 III Telephoto Zoom Lens from Beachcamera.com and shooting from a short distance or with a wide aperture manual setting.
If you take the portrait in natural light, you have the best chance of getting a great look with the natural colors and skin tones. However, shooting outdoors may be tricky, as you may not be able to control the light in most situations. Make sure that you don’t pose the subject right in front of the sun. This may cause unwanted brightness or deep shadows. Shooting in mid-day also should be avoided as much as possible. For best results, position the subject in such a way that sunlight falls on the face from the side. You may also use reflectors or an external flash to light up some parts of the face. If you’re shooting indoors, make sure that you use a soft, evenly distributed light source to light up the subject.
Try different apertures. A wide open aperture will blur the background and make the subject stand out. A smaller aperture will make the whole scene come into better focus. Typically, f/2.0 to f/5.0 is good for portraits.
When taking portraits, your focus should be your model’s eyes. Eyes have a lot of stories to tell. You should be able to bring those out in your photographs. And it’s not always a smiling face which makes a good portrait. Try capturing different expressions while keeping focus on eyes using your Nikon lens from Beachcamera.com.
The pose and the angle of the body and face play a key role. Looking straight at the camera lens with motionless expression can be boring. Try to add a twist with an inviting smile, a sexy expression, a flamboyant look, tilting the chin down or up, turning the head back while walking forward, or sitting and looking up. Experiment with poses and you’ll get some great portraits.
Taking a portrait doesn’t always mean shooting at eye level. Positioning the camera high or low while keeping the focus on the eyes brings out interesting features and adds different flavors to the portraits. So make the model sit, stand up, climb up to the stool or ladder or stairs and shoot. Or you go high, climb up, or position your camera lens high and shoot. You will have a lot more interesting options. Like any craft, learning better portrait photography takes time and practice. Try picking one area to focus on at a time.