Kayla Couch Photography
What separates the quality of photos taken by the pros and the quality of photos taken by amateurs is actually a lot less than you might think.
In fact, you could probably boil it down to a few critical areas of photography - composition, lighting, and gear.
Sure, those are very broad categories, but there are a few tips within each one that can help you improve your portrait photography techniques to get awesome portraits.
Here's three dead simple, yet highly effective portrait photography tricks to try.
Shoot Through Something
Lori Dorman & Co Photography
One of the challenges of photography is to create images that feel as though they have depth.
To do that, you can shoot through things to provide that much-needed dimension.
In the image above, for example, the photographer took the shot through various plants and branches.
As you can see, not only does that give the image the feeling of dimensionality, but it also allowed for the introduction of some interesting colors, shapes and textures in the foreground.
Abba Color Photography
Shooting through something doesn't have to be as obvious, though.
In this example, the photographer took a low shooting position to incorporate some of the leafy elements in the foreground.
In this case, these leaves provide depth because of their blurriness - it's an indication of a shallow depth of field.
Either way, having foreground elements like these is a surefire way to create a more interesting portrait.
Use a Long Lens
Happy Acres Photography
Many amateur photographers shoot portraits with a kit lens, like a 18-55mm or a prime lens like a 50mm.
And while there's nothing wrong with shooting portraits with these lenses - especially a 50mm on a crop sensor camera - there is something to be said for the way a portrait looks when taken with an even longer lens, like an 85mm or even a 200mm.
Standard lenses like a 50mm offer a familiar view of the subject, so there's nothing surprising about how the image looks.
But as you can see in the example above, using a longer lens offers gorgeous compression, incredible bokeh, and provides a flattering look that has less distortion of facial features, like the forehead and nose.
Additionally, the longer your lens, the further away from the subject you have to be, and oftentimes that extra distance helps the subject relax for their portrait. This is one of the portrait photography basics you need to know to take better photos!
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Portrait Photography Technique: Look for Backlighting
Paulina Martinez Photography
A final portrait photography trick you can use to create more compelling photos is to use backlighting as your light source.
Whether it's the sun (as in the image above) or an artificial light source, backlighting offers a unique look to your portraits.
On the one hand, backlighting often lightens up the background to create a light, airy feel in the shot, like the one shown above.
Abba Color Photography
On the other hand, backlighting can also act like rim lighting, which illuminates your subject's hair and figure to give the shot more dimensionality.
Great portraits are all about great light, so the more you strive to find the best lighting, the better your images will look!
Combined with using the right gear and trying unique compositional tricks like shooting through something, you have a recipe for taking portraits that look more professional.
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