- Fashion Photography: A Complete Guide to the Tools and Techniques of the Trade
- Fashion Photography 101
- Light and Shoot 50 Fashion Photos
- Fashion Photography Course: Principles, Practice, and Techniques: An Essential Guide
- Unseen Vogue: The Secret History of Fashion Photography
- Wes Kroninger's Lighting: Design Techniques for Digital Photographers
- Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers
Improving your digital photography skills and your results is often a function of how much you are willing to forget the familiar and conventional and open your mind to greater possibilities. Portrait photography, in particular, can be a much more fulfilling and rewarding experience if you allow yourself to think beyond the traditional portrait photo. The typical perfectly lit and posed head-and-shoulder shot is not wrong; it’s just that there are many other ways to create mood and emotion and reveal your subject’s inner being. That’s the goal of this two-part PhotographyTalk.com article: To help you bring more of your imagination and creativity to portrait photography. Read Part 1 for the first four tips.
Add Complementary or Contrasting Elements.
Human beings are often defined by the objects or places in their lives, whether it’s the tools of a cabinetmaker, a child’s favorite toy or the garden someone has cultivated. Including them in your portrait photography helps others to understand more about your subjects and their dreams, desires and interests. Combining this idea with the use of inventive lighting and shadows can result in an even more amazing portrait: The cabinetmaker in his shadow-filled shop fully concentrated on working on a piece of furniture with a tool or a gardener picking and placing newly grown vegetables in a basket.
Props and environments don’t necessary have to reveal the subject’s personality or character. Sometimes, an object can serve to distract a subject, especially children, so you can capture a more natural and relaxed look. Props can also be used to achieve a compositional balance. If your subject has a very round head or face, then combine him or her with an object that is a contrasting shape, such as a square or triangle.
A traditional portrait can often look like a two-dimensional, cardboard cutout or a wax figure at Madame Toussands. Give your portraits life by adding motion. Your subject can physically move within a properly lighted space in the studio, much the same as fashion photography, or maybe he or she just moves facial features. Take your subject outdoors and compose a series of movements that allows him or her to be expressive in a free, natural manner. You can also move you and/or your camera. There are no rules that preclude you from shooting blurred images or some frames not in focus. Use your burst, or continuous-shooting, mode to capture your subject in multiple images that can be printed and framed together.
A recurring theme of these 8 ideas is to break free from the rules and the conventional portrait form. Framing close-up images of your subject is another way to experience this artistic freedom. The best way to achieve this kind of interesting photo is to use a zoom lens and rack tightly on parts of a person’s face. You can combine this technique with moving the camera to various angles, helping the eyes and mouth to convey different moods and emotions from each view.
Look for Surface Textures and the Scars of Life.
Skin, clothing and objects added to your portraits have surface features, textures and patterns that can complement and contrast with your subject. If your grandmother has crocheted a beautiful shawl or blanket, then add it to your composition and zoom close enough to reveal the texture of her work. The tight, smooth skin and pores of a young person and the folds in the face of an older person can equally enhance these portraits. Facial scars or hands with decades of physical labor all tell a story that will make your portraits more imaginative.
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