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For some photographers, it seems that they think that buying a new camera or a better lens is the secret of how to take better portraits.
And while having quality gear doesn't hurt, it's not the gear that makes the biggest difference in the quality of your images.
Instead, as Peter McKinnon explains in the video above, a big difference-maker in how to take professional portraits is actually in communication.
More specifically, if you can make a connection with your subject, learn about who they are, and pull things from their personality into the shot, you'll end up with a much more pleasing result.
Have a look at Peter's video to explore his method for how to take portraits.
Below, I've outlined some my favorite portrait photography tips.
Editor's Tip: A great portrait isn't just about the image itself - it's also about how you present the image as a print. Learn how to make your photos come to life.
How to Take Better Portraits: Take Photos on Their Turf
One of the best tips for taking good portraits is to simply take some time to get to know the subject and meet them on their turf.
For example, the little boy in the portrait above loves soccer, and since he's a goalie, it makes sense to take his portrait looking through the goalie net at the soccer field.
Isn't this a much better portrait with much more personality than the typical sports photo of a kid in a studio with his foot resting on a soccer ball?
It might take more effort and travel time for you to get into your client's world, yet it can make all the difference in the quality of your photos!
Take Better Portraits by Giving Your Subject Direction
Even professional models need some direction from their photographers, so it stands to reason that us normal, everyday folks need even more direction to understand what to do in front of the camera.
Let's face it - plenty of people aren't comfortable having their photo taken. That's why it's so important to get to know your subjects ahead of time.
But once they're in front of your lens, don't just expect them to strike a pose that makes for a beautiful portrait.
Instead, you need to communicate with the subject and let them know what to do and not to do.
That means giving them guidance on where to look, the facial expression you want, how they should hold their shoulders, what to do with their hands and arms, and so forth.
In other words, you need to work and create a dialogue with the subject so they know what to do.
And by all means, when they nail it, heap praise upon the subject! That will give them more confidence and help you extract even more of their personality to include in your portraits.
Editor's Tip: Dramatic, personality-filled portraits deserve to be seen as beautiful prints. See what your portraits look like as fine art.
Don't Be Afraid of Props
A lot of photographers are afraid to use props in portraits, and for good reason.
If the prop isn't just right for the situation, it can look cheesy and out of place.
However, by using props that align with the direction of the portrait or the portrait subject's personality, you can create a portrait that has much more meaning.
The trick to using props is to incorporate them in a way that feels natural.
In the image above, for example, the bouquet of flowers fits right in with this type of portrait.
The flowers add some color and texture to the photo while also adding a bit of elegance, too.
In this portrait, the man's dog is the ideal prop for this image.
Not only does the dog bring an element of fun to the shot, but the way the man and his dog are interacting in the photo make it a much more meaningful image.
Bring It Home With a Beautiful Print
You can make the portraits you take even more meaningful by turning them into gorgeous prints.
With so many printing options these days, it's hard to know which printers give you the most bang for your buck.
I can attest from personal experience that CanvasHQ is one of the best in the business.
Not only do they use commercial grade ink to print your canvas, but before a drop of ink is ever applied, they send you free digital proofs to make sure all is as it should be.
The pictures always turn out very clear and colorfully accurate. Good job! - Edward H., Durango, CO
The canvas they use to print your images is top-notch, too.
Made in Texas, these canvases are specifically designed for high-end photography and fine art.
With a proprietary Chromata White optical brightener additive-free and fluorescent whitening agent-free added to the canvas, CanvasHQ has a stable substrate to print your images without metamerism issues or color shifts that plague other types of canvases from other companies.
I cannot believe how easy it was to get my canvas from Canvas HQ! I submitted my photo on a Wednesday and my canvas was at my door on Saturday! And it was absolutely perfect! I will definitely order from Canvas HQ again! - Kara O., Manchester, IA
On top of all that, they offer a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, lightning-fast turnaround time (currently just two days!), and free image touch ups.
I've lost track of how many canvases I've ordered from these guys - that should tell you about the quality of their work!
If you really want to make the best portraits, don't just print them off at your local big-box store. Go with a quality print from the best in the business!