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Photo by Meg & Me Photography
It's easy to look at portraits like the one above and think "I can't do that."
But no one ever said photography is easy!
If you take some time to learn a few skills, think purposefully about how you setup the portrait, and give your model a little direction, you'd be surprised at the results that are possible.
In the shot above, notice how the movement of the model's gown totally elevates the shot.
Just adding a bit of a breeze to lift the gown and give the model a bit more visual interest is all this photo needed to go from a good shot to a great one!
So, that's lesson one - incorporate movement into your photos to increase their visual interest.
Let's take a look at a few more portraits to inspire your photography this week...
Think About Relationships
Photo by Angie Englerth
As we saw in the first photo in this article, there's certainly nothing wrong with taking a portrait of a single subject.
But there's something to be said for adding a second person into the shot, too.
In this case, adding the little boy to the shot allowed the photographer to focus not just on his gorgeous mom and her incredible wardrobe choices, but also on his relationship with his mother.
There's a sweetness and a playfulness to this shot that exudes love and joy, and that's not necessarily something that would have been possible had the image just been of mom.
If you want to increase the drama in your portraits, find a way to incorporate a loved one into a few frames. You'll find that the results, like the one above, are truly eye-catching.
Think About the Background
Photo by Ross Kyker Photography
Even though the chances are that the background in your portrait will be nicely blurred, as you can see in the image above, you can still see what's going on behind the model.
That means that even if it's blurry, the background still needs to have the visual qualities that will help you elevate your portrait.
In this case, the barren landscape and the sunset above offer a muted palette to compose the portrait - note how there's nothing behind the model that serves to distract the eye or draw it away from the model's face.
Additionally, it should be pointed out how the foreground elements are at work here as well.
The rough texture of the stones beneath the model's bare feet creates a gorgeous contrast with the smooth, flowing gown she's wearing.
Combined with the use of both artificial and natural lighting, and you've got a gorgeous combination of factors to create a stunning portrait.
There's Nothing Wrong With Simplicity
Photo by Abba Color Photography
I know that sometimes when I take a portrait I try to do too much. In the end, that doesn't do my images any favors.
Instead, there's something to be said for simplicity.
In the portrait above, note how the model's pose and her gown are both simple and straightforward.
Unlike other images in this collection, there's no movement, no extraordinary lighting - it's just the model, her gown, and a pleasing background that's framed by the columns.
But there's beauty in that simplicity. It allows us to engage with the model in perhaps a deeper way.
By that I mean that our eye is drawn to her immediately because of the color of her gown, and then our eyes sit there, inspecting her rather than bouncing from one eye-catching detail to the next.
If you find that your portraits just seem to busy or muddled, work to eliminate distracting elements and focus simply on the model.
Focus the Drama
Photo by April Elizabeth Photography
On the other hand, if you do decide to punch up the drama in your portraits in lieu of a more subdued look, focus that drama on one or two specific areas.
That means rather than having a shocking pose, an eye-catching wardrobe, crazy lighting, and a killer background, pick and choose where you amp up the drama and where you keep things low key.
In the portrait above, notice how the drama is confined to two features - the gown and the lighting.
As we saw in the earlier example, adding the motion effect in the gown gives viewers something to immediately latch onto with their eyes. The deep red color of this gown helps in that endeavor as well.
The use of artificial fill light also gives this image added visual punch.
By placing the lighting to our right, the photographer was able to highlight the volume of the gown and add subtle shadows on the model's face to give the image a little bit of depth.
As far as jaw-dropping portraits go, I think you can see why lighting and wardrobe choice are so important!
Consider the Lighting
Photo by Lin Jirsa
The takeaway from the incredible image above is that with good lighting, you can create an absolutely stunning portrait.
In this case, the strong natural lighting serves a few purposes.
First, it helps reduce the details in the background of the shot, which, in turn, helps keep our eyes focused on the models.
Second, the use of natural lighting means that the image has a nice, golden tone that warms up the shot and gives it a feeling of happiness.
Lastly, that brightness and warmth of the light in the background helps set the couple apart, especially given what they're each wearing.
The deep purple of the woman's dress and the dark black of the man's tuxedo stand out more, and as a result, we have a combination of wardrobe, lighting, and setting that I think you'll agree is quite breathtaking!
Photo by Meg & Me Photography
So, as seen in the images above, if you want a better portrait, try incorporating movement or focusing on relationships.
Be sure the background doesn't compete with your model and that the lighting you use adds drama.
But be careful when using dramatic elements - only use one or two - or go in the opposite direction and focus on a composition that's simple.
Any way you cut it, the results of using these techniques can be outstanding!
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