Photo by Gabriel Silvério on Unsplash
When you are just beginning to venture into portrait photography, everything seems a bit daunting. Before I dive into some portrait photography tips, I wanted to take a moment to be honest about this pretty difficult photography niche.
Portrait photography isn’t something that comes naturally for a lot of photographers. It takes a lot of practice. So, while these tips about how to take better portraits will allow you to get started, you should know that the only way for you to master portrait photography is through time and lots of practice.
Definitely don’t expect for all of your photos to be professional-looking portraits after just a few weeks. By managing your expectations about portrait photography, you will be more likely to continue practicing for months on end.
Play with Eye Contact
Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash
One of my favorite portrait photography tips for beginners is to learn to play with eye contact. When you first get started with portrait photography, most photographers get into the nasty habit of making their models stare directly into the camera lens.
While this works for the first few portraits you take, you definitely can’t do a whole shoot like this. Firstly, your model will get bored posing the exact same way all of the time. Secondly, you will get bored flipping through those photos after the shoot is done.
photo by AzmanJaka via iStock
The first easy way to get out of this portrait photography habit is to simply give your model something to look at in the frame. If you’re photographing a couple, for example, you might have them look at one another rather than at the camera.
photo by Igor Alecsander via iStock
Another option is to just have your model stare at something off camera. This is an especially fun shot if your model is showcasing some emotion at whatever they are looking at. One good tip that I’ve used in the past is to put the model’s significant other off screen.
Don’t Just Rely on Posing
photo by Harbucks via iStock
Portrait photography is definitely a lot about posing, but you should never let how you pose the model get in the way of the story you are trying to tell with your camera.
Sometimes the best portrait photography shots are the shots you didn’t plan at all. This is especially true if you are working with children, or an especially anxious adult.
photo by katrinaelena via iStock
You should always be anticipating moments when your model may do something surprising. To do so, consider putting your camera in burst mode so you can fire off multiple shots in short order.
Another idea is to keep shooting during breaks when you’ve told the model to sit back and relax. Often those candid moments between “real” shots can be very fruitful for a candid portrait.
Try Creating Portrait Series
Photo by Caleb Lucas on Unsplash
If you frequently take photos on your phone, you may have noticed the trend that started a few years ago where phones now let you take photos in a burst mode.
This technology was specifically introduced to help amateur photographers work on their portrait photography. If the camera is taking all of the photos for you, then you can be sure that you aren’t going to miss any of the action.
Burst mode represents a good opportunity to create a series of photos.
photo by HannesEichinger via iStock
photo by HannesEichinger via iStock
As mentioned above, you can do this on the down-low to get some interesting candid shots. However, you can also simply let the model know that you are going to be shooting in a burst sequence and ask them to strike different poses as the camera takes the shots.
It will help your model if you give them something to do during this short period of time (even if your directions are just to go through as many emotions as possible in 5 seconds).
Use New Perspectives
photo by stock_colors via iStock
Another one of my favorite portrait photography strategies for beginners is to use new perspectives. This basically just means that you, as the photographer, should find different angles to photograph from.
This can look like the example above, which is a favorite perspective of many boudoir photographers, or you can get down low on the eye level of a child as they play
photo by Weekend Images Inc. via iStock
While the primary goal of portrait photography is to capture your model as accurately as possible, you don’t want to do this and sacrifice all of the intrigue in the photograph. Besides, if you play with angles and perspectives, there’s a good chance you’ll capture a portrait that is much more interesting than a traditional posed shot with the model looking right down the barrel of the lens.
Create Beautiful Prints
If you’re learning how to make portraits look professional, then you need to focus on how you present those portraits.
Print photography is a fantastic avenue for portrait photographers because they allow your work to be showcased in someone’s house on a regular basis. This basically acts as free marketing for your business, but it also allows your clients to show off photos of themselves that they are proud of.
While you could go the traditional route and print your portraiture on paper, I always think it is a much more fun unboxing experience if you opt to buy canvas prints.
Canvas prints allow the colors of your photo to be incredibly vibrant to the point where the image looks like it is about to jump off of the page.
Canvas prints also act as family heirlooms when you choose the right canvas printing company. Canvas prints will last much longer than paper prints. They also look more professional.
When I purchase canvas prints, I choose to work with CanvasHQ. I first started working with CanvasHQ a few years ago and never looked back at any other canvas printing company.
Every canvas that CanvasHQ creates is rated for over a century, which means your clients can happily pass it onto their children and grandchildren.
Additionally, every canvas is handbuilt. The frames are hand created and your print is hand stretched onto that frame. This ensures that your canvas print won’t crack over the years.
CanvasHQ’s customer service is phenomenal, even right now. They quickly answer any questions I have and will notify me right away if they come across any problems during the crafting process. It’s just one reason why they won our 2020 canvas print shootout!
If you are truly a beginner photographer, CanvasHQ can perform some touch-ups to your photographs, like removing red eyes and blemishes.
They also have a countdown on their website that will tell you exactly how much time you can expect it to take for your canvas to get created if you send in a print today.
Plus, CanvasHQ creates canvas prints that won’t break the bank!