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Adam Opris Photography
If you want to create a portrait that has maximum visual appeal and helps the viewer connect with the subject, you need to learn how to properly frame the shot.
Understanding where to place the subject in the frame, how near or far to be from the subject, and how much space to leave around the subject's head are all factors that can influence the mood of the shot.
If you get to know a few rules of framing, you'll find that you can compose more impactful portraits.
Editor's Tip: The sample images used throughout this article were shared with us by Sew Trendy Fashion & Accessories. Sew Trendy is one of the premier maternity and newborn photography companies in the industry, with gowns, separates, and accessories for expecting moms as well as clothing, wraps, and props for newborns. They also offer non-maternity outfits and clothing for girls as well. Check out their complete product line by visiting their website.
Compose the Shot Using the Rule of Thirds
Tara Rae Photography
The first lesson in framing an impactful portrait is to use the good ol' rule of thirds.
As you can see in the image above, by shifting the model to the right side of the frame, the image becomes immediately more dynamic.
Not only is it a more interesting composition with the model positioned away from the center of the frame, but by moving her to our right, it gave the photographer the opportunity to highlight the gorgeous train on the model's dress.
Take a Little Paws Photography
You can see the rule of thirds at work in this shot as well.
Again, with the model shifted to our right and her train flowing back toward the left, we get a much more creative composition.
But note that in this case, the model and her train don't exactly align with where the rule of thirds grid would be - and that's okay.
The rule of thirds isn't a hard-and-fast rule that states the subject must be perfectly placed along a gridline. Feel free to experiment with the positioning of the model until you find what's most pleasing.
Close-Ups Can Be Too Close
Close-up portraits offer a more intimate composition because you can highlight some of the model's features that might be less noticeable from further away.
However, you can get too close with a close-up. For example, sometimes, photographers might cut off the model's shoulders such that they look like a floating head in the frame.
An easy solution to that problem is to get closer to the model, but still frame up a half body or full body shot.
As you can see in the image above, the photographer is much closer to the model so we get a better view of things like the braids in her hair, the color of her eyeshadow, her lips and her baby bump, but without creating any weird cropping issues like mentioned above.
Becca Rillo Photography
Editor's Tip: In addition to changing the manner in which you frame the shot, you can add drama to a portrait with the wardrobe choices. Putting the model in outfits that have bold colors, interesting shapes, or unique textures can elevate the image and give it much more visual appeal.
Give the Model's Head Some Room
Lori Dorman & Co Photography
An additional consideration when framing your portraits is to ensure that the model's head has enough space around it.
If you don't, the shot will look and feel cramped, and it won't provide as impactful a viewing experience as you'd like.
In the image above, you can see how there's plenty of negative space above the model's head. This helps the shot convey the openness of the landscape in which the model is standing.
Paulina Martinez Photography
This idea of head space is even more important in close-up photos like the one shown above.
Again, notice how there's some space above the model's head to give it a buffer from the edge of the frame.
Even though the space in this shot is much less than the previous one, the image still feels open and airy, thanks in large part to the abundance of room on the left and right of the model in the photo.
With that, you have three simple, yet effective tricks for framing up the perfect portrait!
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