There are certain classic methods of composing a portrait to get the best results, but a lot of photographers may not be aware of what these techniques are. To take your portraits to a whole new level, check out the composition styles below. Then start including them in your photo shoots with models or individuals looking for great headshots or family portraits.
Focusing on the Top Half of Your Model
Create a tighter composition by cropping your model at the chest or at the waist. Guide your model in how to pose so that you can focus on her hands and eyes. Also, position the model off-center and have her reach her arms toward her head and eyes to draw attention there as well. This brings a new element of beauty into the shot.
When you crop a portrait in this manner, it's recommended that you stick with creating a 50/50 split between the background and your model. The best background is one that's simple rather than cluttered.
For these portraits, it's also recommended that you utilize a wider aperture and soften the focus on the background so that the model becomes the point of interest even more.
Getting a Wide Shot with the Environment in It
When most people think of portraits, they think of relatively close-up shots of a person's face and body. But a wider photo could be a nice way to switch things up and give a client something different.
The best way to take advantage of this type of portrait is to head out into an environment that's reflective of the model's personality or career. Clients who are looking for inspiring headshots and portraits they can use to promote themselves will like the idea of incorporating who they really are into the portrait, rather than focusing on their looks alone. Don't be afraid of an on-location shoot in the great outdoors, or create a set with props in-studio if you prefer.
Place your model on a third. Incorporate the use of shapes and lines to help guide the viewer's eye, and be sure to avoid any distracting elements by keeping them out of frame. You can also experiment with various heights and angles to see the different perspectives you can get on your model and the environment.
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Getting the Best Head-and-Shoulders Portrait
Traditional portraits of a model's head and shoulders are really popular, but a lot of photographers don't know how to properly compose these images. For the best results, all you have to do is avoid dead space by filling your frame with the model's face. Crop in tight while placing the model's eyes on the upper third of the image. For these portraits, you can even crop into the head a bit.
To make anyone's features look even more attractive, utilize a long lens to compress features, create a blurred background, and make your model the focal point of the image without any distracting elements.
Have Fun with Your Model
Although these are tried-and-true portrait compositions, feel free to experiment and see what you can come up with. After all, that's part of the process of developing your own style. To take your skills to a new level, though, sign up to become a member of the PT community, where you can access valuable courses on how to shoot diverse subjects in a variety of settings.