Portraits are a fantastic way to capture the spirit and personality of a loved one. Yet despite how easy the professionals make it look, taking portraits is a difficult art to master. To help you transform your amateur headshots into high quality portraits, we’ve put together this list of useful hints and suggestions that every photographer should take into account.
Shake up your perspective While most portraits are taken at eye level, for something a little out of the ordinary why not try mixing things up with some new perspectives. Getting above the subject can really give a portrait the wow factor while shooting at ground level will create an intimate result.
Lose the eye contact Eye contact can be incredibly powerful however it is not always essential. If you want to experiment with a new technique, try asking your subject to glance down, gaze into the distance or turn to the side. These looks may not be traditional but they’re definitely interesting!
Experiment with lighting For traditional portraits, you want to ensure that your subject’s face is flawlessly lit up with no harsh shadows or highlights. If you’re opting for a more contemporary portrait, the world is your oyster! Side lighting is a great way to create a moody feel while backlighting and silhouettes add intrigue and mystery.
Shoot candid shots As well as snapping staged shots, make sure that you also capture the subject acting naturally. A flicker of a smile, spur of the moment laugh or absorbed frown can sometimes be the winning shot!
Choose a fast shutter speed Whether you’re shooting a posed portrait or a candid subject, humans have a tendency to blink, move and fidget. To avoid blurs and unfocussed shots, make sure you increase your ISO, especially if you’re shooting indoors in soft light.
Use props For portraits with added depth, adding a prop can have a wonderful effect. The extra point of interest captures the attention and adds an extra element of interest to the finished product. When used correctly, relevant props can also add complexity to the subject in question.
Embrace your apertures In general, good portraits are shot with a small depth of field that blurs out any background distractions. This helps to emphasise the subject and create a high impact shot. To achieve this look, set your camera to maximum aperture in order to decrease depth of field.