- The Rule of Thirds
- A Beginner's Guide to Aperture and Depth of Field
- Incredibly Easy Maternity Photography Tricks to Take Your Photos to the Next Level
When I started out in photography, I seldom took photos of people.
I just felt like I didn't have the skills or the eye for taking a high-quality portrait.
What I learned later on is that you don't need any particular set of special "portrait photography skills" to take a photo that makes the model look great.
Really, all you need to know are a few basic tips for things like composition, posing, and selecting a wardrobe, and you'll be in a good spot to take a nice portrait.
Composition Tip: Help Bring Attention to the Face
Jennifer Ariel Photography
By and large, the purpose of a portrait is to highlight the model's face, and more specifically, the eyes.
You can easily do that by adhering to a couple of tried-and-true photography tips: the rule of thirds and a shallow depth of field.
The rule of thirds simply states that if you shift the subject to the left or right of center, that you'll create a more interesting and balanced image, like the one seen above.
That also helps you identify where you should place your model's face - if you placed a grid of nine equally-sized boxes on top of the image above, you'd see that the model's eyes closely align with one of the intersection points.
By placing the model's face at one of those intersection points, you help draw the viewer's attention to their eyes, thus helping the viewer to more deeply connect with the model, even when the model's surroundings are quite detailed and eye-catching.
Amber Fite Photography
Another trick you can use is to blur the background with a shallow depth of field, as seen in the image above.
The depth of field depends on a number of factors, including the aperture you use to take the shot. The larger the aperture, the shallower the depth of field, so to blur the background, try using an aperture like f/4, f/2.8, or f/1.4.
The point of blurring the background in a portrait is to help the subject stand out in the shot, like the model in the image above.
That is, by keeping the subject in sharp focus and blurring the background, you have yet another way to help viewers focus on what's important - the model - and more specifically, their eyes and face.
Posing Tip: Help Them With Their Hands
Ross Kyker Photography
No matter if you photograph pregnant women, kids, men, individuals, couples, or families, one thing will remain true: you need to help people do something with their hands.
Awkward hands and arms are a sure-fire way to ruin an otherwise great portrait.
In fact, you can have a perfect photo, but if the model doesn't know what to do with their arms, the photo can easily fall flat.
You don't have to do anything special with their hands, either.
In the image above, simply having the model bring her hands to her face gives her hands purpose in the shot - they help frame her face.
In this shot, just having the little use her arms to extend her dress for a better view of the gown helps accomplish the task of giving her hands something to do.
Likewise, the stunning dress becomes a type of prop, and using props is a great way to give portrait models something to do with their hands. It's amazing how much more relaxed a model will be if they have something to hold onto!
But here's a bonus tip - if you use props, make them subtle.
Though the dress in the image above is gorgeous and full of detail, it doesn't jump out at you as being a prop.
If you have your model hold something, make sure it fits into the overall look and feel of the image, otherwise, it will look totally out of place.
Wardrobe Tip: Consider the Color and Material
Red Bridge Photography
The whole point of helping a model choose a wardrobe for a portrait is to make them look and feel their best.
This can be achieved in a variety of ways, including choosing pieces that are the right color and the right material.
When it comes to color, you want something that compliments both the model's skin tone and hair color, as well as the environment in which the shot is taken.
Looking at the image above, the black gown works beautifully with the model's light skin and dark hair. What's more, the gown adds depth to the shot, which is otherwise missing deep, dark tones in the black spectrum.
It also helps that the gown has a formal look to it, but the setting is quite rustic. That means that by choosing this particular gown, the photographer was able to create multiple levels of contrast that enhance the visual appeal of the shot.
Abba Color Photography
When it comes to selecting a material, you need to consider the comfort of the model.
This is especially true when working with an expecting mother.
Knit gowns are ideal for pregnant models because the fabric is soft and allows mom to move around easily.
What's more, knit pieces conform to mom's curves, allowing you to highlight her baby bump, as you can see in the image above.
When it comes down to it, there's a lot of things involved in creating a gorgeous portrait. But if you can focus on the composition, posing, and wardrobe tips I've outlined above, you'll be in a good position to create some truly eye-catching images!
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