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As we have talked before, portrait photography is a bout capturing a moment with someone, a moment that hopefully reveals their character. Knowing the subject personally can help, but you don’t always have that luxury and sometimes the person in front of your lens is a complete stranger. Either way, things aren’t always easy, and not knowing what to do can reduce your chances of getting those great photographs you are after. Here are a few solid tips to help you bring things to your advantage.
1. Don’t always go for the smile
Some people are beautiful when they smile; others look a lot better with a more serious, mature expression. It’s best to try both options instead of trying to make a person smile when it’s not their strong point.
2. Focus before the action happens
If it’s an action portrait, like that of a bride running towards the camera, make sure to have your focus set on manual and the area where you want to snap the picture pre-focused. That way your camera won’t be busy trying to measure the distance right when the magic happens.
3. Keep your subject from blinking
Blinking is one of the most common reasons for ruined photos. It’s unpredictable and involuntary, but with a bit of practice it can be controlled. When working with one person, it’s fairly easy to avoid missed shots caused by blinking. The challenge comes when photographing groups. If you shoot randomly, chances are they’re at least one person will be blinking in the photo. Make sure to let the people know when you’re about to photograph them, and, if necessary, tell them to blink a few times in advance just so they get rid of the reflex when the time comes for you to press the shutter release.
4 Use a catchlight
The catchlight is a small reflection in the person’s eyes and it’s one of the essential elements that give a portrait “life.” Without it, even if you have the prettiest model, the photos will most likely look dull.
5. Have your subject use their hands
Often the person you are photographing will be shy or will have some sort of discomfort related to posing. This is especially true with hands. Many people don’t know what to do with them when a camera is being pointed in their direction and it’s like they turn into stiff robots. To make the situation easier for both parties, have your subject do something with their hands. They can hold on to something, use an object, put their hands in their pockets or whatever you fell would make a good photo.
6. Shoot black and white
The absence of color can be a fantastic advantage. By taking it out of the picture, you are able to focus more on the expression, on the light and on the texture of everything. They don’t say black and white is the most honest for nothing.
Image credit: prometeus / 123RF Stock Photo