- Portrait Photographer's Handbook
- 500 Poses for Photographing Women
- 500 Poses for Photographing Men
- Posing for Portrait Photography: A Head-to-Toe Guide for Digital Photographers
- Doug Box's Guide to Posing for Portrait Photographers
- Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers
- Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It: Learn Step by Step How to Go from Empty Studio to Finished Image
If you’re like most amateur photographers, then you take many pictures of people, or portrait photography. Of course, you want photos of you and your family and friends together: holidays, anniversaries, vacations, a night on the town, etc. With the first 10 tips in this two-part article about portrait photography, you can start to capture images of your family and friends, and people in general, that reveal much more about them.
1. Change the Camera Angle.
Instead of shooting portrait photos only at eye level, try some different angles: from above your subject, even directly above, or from below, in a crouch position or even laying on the ground.
2. Direct the Eyes.
Pretend you’re a Hollywood director and ask the “stars” in your portrait photography to look in different directions. A down-the-lens view certainly makes it easy to recognize the person in the picture and to make an emotional connection. Then, ask your “star” to look off camera. He or she can look over your shoulder or head or at various angles to the ground. Another directorial trick is to instruct your subject to react to what he or she sees off camera.
3. Break and Create
It’s important as a beginner photographer to learn the “rules” of photocomposition. It would be no different for a beginner painter. Once you know those rules and use them effectively, you can then experiment by breaking the rules to create better photo portraits. The Rule of Thirds states that you shouldn’t place your subject in the exact middle of the frame. Try it sometime and see what happens! Consider framing just half of the person’s face, with the remainder off camera.
4. Move the Light.
Shoot your portrait photos in full light, but also move the light to create totally different pictures. You can place the primary light source from the side, from above or below or at various angles behind the subject, including silhouettes.
5. Make It Uncomfortable.
It makes sense to shoot portrait photos in a comfortable setting, but you could take even more interesting pictures when your subject is outside his or her comfort zone. An infant that doesn’t like to take a bath may result in pictures you’ll cherish just as much as “formal” portraits. Pictures of the husband, who hates shopping, following his wife throughout the mall and carrying her packages, would be hilarious and revealing.
6. Catch Them Unaware.
The best portrait photos are often those that catch the subject totally unaware. Candid pictures of people focused on a project, book or another person and naturally interacting within the situation is a good technique, especially for people who are shy or hesitant about sitting for a portrait, and children.
7. Add an Object or Person.
You can make your portrait photos even more interesting when you add another object or person to the picture. Then, ask your portrait subject to look at or interact with them. Introduce an object that relates to the person’s life or interests.
8. Focus on Close-Ups.
You could capture more memorable portrait photos by focusing on specific parts of your subjects: hands, eyes, mouth, tattoo or the lower half of the body.
9. Create Less, Reveal More.
Make your portrait photography intriguing and mysterious by covering parts of the subject’s face or body. Ask a woman to hide all of her face, except her eyes, behind a scarf. A man could do the same with a hat. Use the object or person in Tip #8 above to conceal part of your portrait subject.
10. Keep Clickin’.
Use the “burst” or “continuous shooting” mode if your camera has one to create a series of portrait photos instead of a single image. This is a great method to photograph children.