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Expert Portrait Photography in Six Steps

Portrait photography is one of the most popular forms of the art. Many of the great works of art of all time feature people, and photography has naturally taken over as a creative medium for capturing images of people. An effective portrait photograph captures the character and personality of the subject, and is something to be treasured. Effective portrait photography is a blend of technical skill and the ability to communicate with people. The following tips will guide you to produce portrait photographs like an expert.

Know you camera.

Communicating with your subject and keeping them at ease is essential in portrait photography. You must be able to relax your subject, and get them to forget about the camera and the fact you are taking pictures. If you are constantly fiddling with your camera, it can ruin the atmosphere. Use a camera you are very familiar with when shooting portraits, and make sure you know the controls and how to access them instantly. Operating your camera should be second nature when working with people.

Think about background.

The background behind your subject can make or break a portrait photograph. Clutter and distractions can spoil a picture, and it’s important to consider the background in every shot. In some situations you may decide to include elements of the background if it’s relevant to the picture. Setting the camera to a wide aperture to blur the background is a quick solution to cluttered backgrounds. Changing the angle you are shooting from is another easy way to change the background of a portrait picture.

Capture expression.

Many photographers think that a portrait photograph has to be a picture of the subject smiling, but other expressions may say far more about a subject. If you do want your subject so smile, it’s best to sit and talk to them and encourage them to smile naturally. When taking portraits of children, tell them a funny story or engage them in conversation to make natural smiles appear. More reflective facial expressions can be very powerful in portrait photographs. Capturing different expressions takes time, but it’s well worth the effort.

Frame and compose for impact.

Composing a portrait is another critical element of creating an effective picture. Consider whether a head and shoulders shot will work best, or whether you need to include more of the subject’s body. Experiment with different compositions, and don’t be afraid to try something unusual. For example, a picture of the subject’s eyes may be all that’s needed to capture them in a photograph. The eyes are usually the key element of a portrait picture, so think about where to position them in the frame for maximum impact.

Choose the right lens.

Prime lenses are perfect for portrait photography, and usually deliver better quality than zoom lenses. Prime lenses also have wide apertures which can be used to blur a distracting background. A zoom lens offers greater flexibility when it comes to framing, and may be more useful for wider shots.

Keep shooting.

Spare memory cards and fully charged batteries are essential for a portrait photography session. It’s important to keep shooting and take different variations of pictures. There may be one or two shots out of a hundred which capture a brief look or expression and truly capture the subject’s personality. It may take your subject time to relax, and the first shots of a session may be disappointing.

Written by: Kaizen Marketing