- Picture Perfect Practice: A Self-Training Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Taking World-Class Photographs
- Direction & Quality of Light: Your Key to Better Portrait Photography Anywhere
- Sketching Light: An Illustrated Tour of the Possibilities of Flash
There’s a lot more to a good portrait than a pretty face, good lighting and correct composition. Like any powerful photograph, it has to tell a story and it must do so in a way that is easy to understand by viewers. Creating the right mood is one of the most important aspects of shooting portraits and it can be done using various techniques. First of all, it’s important to have a good idea about what kind of message you want your subject to send. Is it an angry mood or a happy one? Do you want your model to look sad or emotional or do you want him or her to portray an image of success? Maybe it’s something more subtle or abstract that makes the viewer ask what message you wanted to send. Whatever the case, you should know what tools to use.
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Obviously posing and expressions are the first step in creating the right mood. It really helps if you’re working with someone’s who has been in front of a professional’s camera before or if the subject is a pro at something and you want to capture them doing what they know best.
The right directions will help tremendously so make sure you have your communication skills polished. The model has to understand what you want from them so be specific to the smallest detail. This is of course will be based on trial and error so give the two of you enough time to find the right pose and expression.
Lighting is the next important tool in creating mood. Make sure you match the light with the mood. If you’re taking an emotional or flattering portrait, you’re probably going to want to use a nice soft light. Use a larger modifier and place it as close as you can to the model.
But if you’re going for something different like aggression or anger, hard light is the way to go. In this case, using one or more bare flashes could do the trick.
(Success Tip #2: Take portraits of people anywhere and turn them into profits)
Last but not least, do not underestimate the power of post-processing. You can highlight and emphasize certain details in post-processing that will increase the visual appeal of the shot and will also make it easier for the viewer to understand the mood you wanted to send.
Here’s a great video tutorial with Gavin Hoey from Adorama TV.