When it comes to portraits, it can be hard to source unique photography ideas that help make the photos you take stand out.
That's where this article comes in...
Whether it's the use of props or colors, lines or framing, these simple, yet effective portrait photography tips will make your subjects shine in a unique way.
And though the example images I use are of girls, these photoshoot ideas can be used for any portrait.
With that, let's get started!
Use Props, But Carefully
Silver Lining Photography
When some portrait photographers hear the word "props," they shutter.
That's because props can very quickly get out of control, and before you know it, you've got a portrait on your hands that's less about the person and more about the crazy prop they're holding.
If you want to create a photo with a more interesting dynamic, use props in a way that helps support your visual story.
In the image above, for example, the sunflower that the little girl is holding is the ideal prop.
Not only does it help tie her in with her surroundings, but it gives her something to do with her hands - a strategy that will help your subject relax for a more natural-looking photo.
What's more, the sunflower in her hands helps tell a story about this little girl. Instead of looking like she was placed in a field of sunflowers to get her picture taken, it seems more like the photographer happened to find this girl as she was looking for sunflowers on her own.
It's a subtle tool to use, but it can certainly be effective!
Use Color to Draw Attention to Your Subject
Molly Dockery Photography
If you aren't too keen on trying props to help define your subject and tell a more interesting visual story, then you might try adding a pop of color to the image.
Our eyes love color and contrast, and by placing your subject in a bright or saturated color, you'll immediately draw the attention of the viewer's eye.
In the image above, the bright pink of the girl's gown offers a beautiful contrast to the deep greens of the forest background.
Not only is that color contrast a pleasing combination, but the brightness of the pink also helps offset the darkness of the background.
Additionally, the fact that the dress is flowing and in motion helps make the little girl an even stronger subject in this portrait.
That brings me to a bonus tip: if you want to elevate the impact of your images, consider doing it with the wardrobe choice. In this case, the girl's gown from Sew Trendy adds a touch of elegance and femininity to the shot that help take the portrait to another level.
Use Leading Lines
Baby Bare Photography
Leading lines are usually associated with landscape photography, but they can certainly help you create better portraits as well.
Looking at the example above, you can see the various lines at work.
The pathway on which the girl is walking helps move our eyes from the foreground, to the girl, and beyond, creating a line for our eyes to inspect the photo from front to back.
Helping in that regard is the path to the right of the girl as well as the horizontal line created by the top of the archways in the background.
Speaking of those archways, the vertical columns help give the shot additional depth and dimension, which makes for a much more immersive viewing experience.
But notice how none of those lines compete with the little girl for attention. Rather, they're supporting elements that make this portrait more successful.
Focus on Framing
Corinna Schutz Photography
There are a couple of different ways that you can use framing to create improved portraits.
First, if you're shooting in a location that doesn't have a great background, frame up a close-up shot of your subject and turn the background into bokeh.
As you can see in the image above, the tight frame on the little girl not only de-emphasizes the rather blase background, but it also helps draw more attention to the girl's face and eyes.
What's more, the close framing allows us to see the small details in the girl's dress and floral crown, which help balance out the lack of detail in the blurry background.
Vic & Marie Photography
Another way you can use framing is to find elements that help contain the viewer's eye in a wider portrait like the one shown above.
Here, the railing behind the girl helps prevent our eyes from wandering all over the shot.
What's more, the tree branches in the foreground help frame out the right side of the image, again, helping to direct our attention to the girl.
Again, this and the other tricks I've outlined above are simple, yet as you can see, they have tremendous impact on the quality of the photos.
About Sew Trendy
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