Advanced Composition Photography Articles

4 Composition Mistakes You Need to Stop Making

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When you look at the images created by the world's best photographers, it's hard not to think, "Wow, that's a perfect shot."

The thing is, there was a lot of time and effort put in for that photographer to get that image to look that good.

And, in the end, if you ask that photographer about their image, I doubt they'd say it was perfect anyway.

The point is that we all make mistakes as photographers. The trick is minimizing those mistakes.

Here's a few common mistakes beginner photographers make and what you need to do to fix them.

Mistake #1: Cut Off Body Parts

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Look at a beginner photographer's photos, like the one above, and often you'll see a person's body parts awkwardly cut off (like the man's leg).

The same thing happens with other subjects too - the corner of a building is missing or the top of a tree appears to be chopped off.

It's not a good look...

Usually, this mistake is a result of just not having trained one's eye to check the edges of the frame. Other times, it's a matter of simply rushing the process of composing the shot.

Instead of having people and things look chopped off in your photos, take an extra few seconds to check your edges.

If you find that grandpa's hand is cut off or the mountain peak extends beyond the top of the frame, recompose the shot to include those features.

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If you're in a situation in which you have to cut something out, be deliberate about it.

For example, if you're taking a portrait and you don't want to include the person's feet, crop the image at mid-thigh, as seen above.

If you want just their upper body in the shot, crop above the waist.

When framing the shot, avoid having the cutoff points where joints are. That helps avoid awkward-looking framing as though a body part or feature is missing.

Mistake #2: Not Checking the Background

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Years ago I took a photo of my family when we were on vacation in Alberta, and on first glance, it looked like a winner.

Upon closer review, however, there was a tree directly behind my dad, so it appeared that the tree was growing out of his head.

That happened because I was focused solely on the subjects - my family - and didn't take a moment to see what else was happening in the shot.

This is an easy mistake to make because, in the moment, you're trying to make your portrait subject look as good as possible.

Naturally, if they have a tree coming out of their head (or out of their neck, as in the image above), they won't look great...

The easiest way to overcome this mistake is to slow down for a moment, frame the shot, and then inspect the background, much like you need to inspect the edges of the frame.

If you find that there's something strange going on behind your subject, all you need to do is take one or two steps to the left or right, or perhaps move your camera higher or lower to change the perspective.

It's about as easy a fix as you'll find!

Learn more about finding pleasing backgrounds for your portraits in the video above from Matt Granger.

Mistake #3: Always Shooting in Horizontal Format

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I'm most comfortable shooting with my camera in the horizontal position, and I'd be willing to bet you are too.

But just because it's comfortable doesn't mean that we should always shoot with the camera parallel to the ground.

Portraits, in particular, often benefit from a vertical orientation. This is especially true of half, three-quarter, and full body portraits.

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But you can use vertical format for any other type of photo - a tall building, a landscape, a macro scene - you name it.

Get in the habit of taking at least one vertical shot and at least one horizontal shot each time.

Doing so will get you thinking about shooting vertically, and you might just find that the vertical shot is a more pleasing look!

Mistake #4: Putting the Subject in the Middle of the Frame

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I will be the first to say that there are times when having the subject in the middle of the frame actually works really well.

However, if you're looking through your photos and notice a pattern in which the subject - be it your wife or kids, a mountain or an animal - is always smack in the middle of the frame, we've got a problem.

One thing you don't want to do is get into a rut by always having your subjects in the same spot in the frame.

As a result, think about where you can place the subject to give the shot a little more interest.

Using the Rule of Thirds helps in this endeavor because it forces you to shift the subject to the left or right of center (or above or below center). See how it works in the video above by Mike Browne.

Something else to be wary of is taking photos from the same eye level every time.

By kneeling down, standing on your tippy-toes, or moving to the left or right, you can give viewers a little more of a unique look at your subject. That's because we're familiar with things from our own eye level, so by changing that up, you create an unexpected shot.

Bonus Mistake: Forgetting to Check the Camera Settings

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Ok, so this isn't a compositional mistake, but it's still extremely common...

I can't tell you how many times I've fiddled with my camera settings, only to pick up my camera a few hours or a few days later and start shooting away to find that my images are wildly underexposed, overexposed, or suffering from some other issue.

This isn't an issue if you shoot in full auto mode (which, you'll need to get out of at some point...).

But if you're made the leap to aperture priority mode, shutter priority mode, program, or manual, you'll want to get into the habit of taking a peek at your settings before you start shooting.

It will save you frustration later on when you're wondering why your first few photos don't look right.

It might also help prevent a missed shot due to the wrong settings!



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4 Simple Things You Can Do Right Now to Take Better Photos

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Tell me if this sounds familiar...

You spend countless hours learning about photography and practicing taking photos.

And though you occasionally get results that make you think, "Wow, I did that!" more often than not, you're left thinking, "Geez, that's not as good as I hoped."

We've all been there, even some of the greatest photographers to ever live.

But that doesn't mean that you should be complacent and just accept that some of your images won't be up to snuff.

There's plenty that we can all do to give our images a bit of a boost, but rather than trying to list them all and completely overwhelming you, I've picked out four things that you can do right now, today, that will have a positive impact on the photos you create.

Focus on Lighting

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Obviously, the photos you take need to have good lighting to be successful. That's the easy part.

The hard part is ensuring that you get the lighting as close to ideal in-camera as you can get.

Your camera's light meter is designed to "read" the light in a scene and strive to make it neutral gray. Though this process works well in many instances, sometimes your light meter can get it wrong.

For example, if you're photographing a wintery landscape like the one above that has a lot of white, the light meter will think that the scene is extremely bright and try to darken the image. The result is snow that looks gray instead of white.

Conversely, if you're photographing a very dark scene, the camera's meter will read it as being too dark and try to lighten it, again, making everything look gray.

To get around this problem, you can use your camera's exposure compensation feature.

Essentially, exposure compensation allows you to manually override what the camera's meter thinks should happen. So, if the image is too dark, you can dial in positive exposure compensation to brighten the image. If it's too bright, you can dial in negative exposure compensation to darken it.

If you aren't sure how to use exposure compensation, check out the video above by Mike Browne.

Make It Sharp

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You can compose a gorgeous photo and have the exposure settings just right, but if the photo isn't sharp, you'll have an unsuccessful photo on your hands.

Many have tried - and failed - to correct a photo that isn't sharp by trying to sharpen it in post-processing. However, this is going about the issue in the wrong way.

Instead, sharpness is something that needs to be achieved in-camera when you take the photo.

The question is, how do you do that?

The simple answer is this: set yourself up for success.

By that I mean a couple of things:

  • When possible, use a tripod to stabilize your camera.
  • If you don't have a camera remote, get one like the Alpine Labs Spark pictured above.
  • Use your camera settings to your advantage to get sharp photos.

The first two are pretty self-explanatory - a tripod and a camera remote help to prevent camera shake that results from holding that camera while you shoot or manually pressing the shutter button.

By removing those factors, you immediately have a greater ability to get a sharper photo.

Essential Camera Settings for Sharpness - Aperture

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But just as important is to understand how your camera settings might impact sharpness.

For example, the aperture you use can impact the sharpness of the shot.

Though it's common to use a very large aperture like f/2 for portraits and a very small aperture like f/22 for landscapes (as seen below), using an aperture at one extreme or the other misses the sweet spot of the lens - the aperture range that results in the best sharpness.

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Though the sweet spot differs from one lens to the next, it's usually somewhere in the mid-range of apertures, around f/8 or f/11. Learn how to find your camera's sweet spot if you don't already know how.

Additionally, the aperture helps determine the depth of field, which, if small enough, could render parts of your subject blurry. Again, if you aren't sure how depth of field works, learn what it is and how to use it to your advantage.

Essential Camera Settings for Sharpness - Shutter Speed

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Shutter speed influences the sharpness of your images because if you choose a shutter speed that's too slow to photograph a moving subject, that subject will be blurry, as seen above.

Naturally, to rectify this, you need to use a faster shutter speed.

What's more, if you're shooting without a tripod and you're holding your camera, you have to be aware of the minimum shutter speed you can use with your lens.

For example, if you're using a 24mm lens on a full frame camera, the slowest shutter speed you can use is about 1/24 seconds - the inverse of the shutter speed.

If you're using a crop sensor camera, though, you have to calculate the crop factor to determine the slowest shutter speed you can use.

In that case, if you're shooting with a Nikon APS-C format camera with a 1.5x crop factor, the same 24mm lens would require a shutter speed no slower than about 1/36 seconds.

The moral of the story here is that the aperture and shutter speed aren't just for determining the level of exposure in your shot - they also have an impact on the sharpness of your photos.

For more tips on how to get sharper images when handholding your camera, watch the video above by Matt Granger.

Take It Easy on Post-Processing

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One thing I notice more than anything in many photos taken be beginners is that they tend to be overprocessed.

Processing your images should be a process of fine-tuning, not a process of completely changing the image.

There are some caveats, like converting a color image to black and white, but by and large, processing should first focus on making small adjustments to exposure, contrast, and color temperature above all else.

The key word here is "small."

If you can get things right (or as close to right) in-camera, you won't have to worry as much about making significant changes in post-processing.

Here's a prime example:

Let's say you have a photo that just doesn't have the detail you want in the highlighted or shadowed areas.

So, you use post-processing to bring down those highlights and bring up the shadows to try and recover some of that detail.

The problem is that by doing so, you end up with an image that looks processed, especially if the shadows and highlights look a little too perfect. Get some insight into why overprocessing is a bad thing in the video above by Jared Polin.

You can get around this by shooting at the right time of day to get the look you want.

If you want very even tones with minimal shadows and highlights, go out and shoot when it's overcast or during Golden Hour. If you want tons of contrast, shoot during mid-day. 

Be Careful How Much You Crop

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A final mistake to watch out for is getting out of hand with resizing and cropping the image.

Every time you resize the image, you impact the pixels contained therein. As a result, you never want to resize an image multiple times because the more you do it, the more the quality of the image will degrade.

What's more, you want to avoid cropping in order to create an image with a close-up look.

This results in an image that, again, has degraded image quality that doesn't align with our goal to have better-looking photos.

Instead, if you want a tight frame on a subject for a close-up look, do the work in the field by moving physically closer to the subject or using a longer focal length lens to fill the frame with the subject.

Wrapping It Up

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Though this isn't an exhaustive list of everything you can do to create better photos, it is certainly a step in the right direction when it comes to the technical things you can do to improve your images.

When it comes down to it, what really matters is striving to get as much right in-camera as you possibly can.

As we've seen here, getting the lighting and sharpness nailed down in camera, and taking it easy with post-processing and cropping will go a long way in helping your photos have the type of impact you want.

Take a look at the image above, and you can see these tips in action. It's sharp, the exposure is great, it looks natural, and the cropping is spot on.

That's the power of using these simple tricks!



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6 Tips for Landscape Composition

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When you get down to it, composition is really an abstract concept.

Sure, it's arranging things inside the little box created by your camera, but how you go about doing that isn't necessarily rules-based.

For example, you might find that using the rule of thirds for one landscape photo works great, but that breaking the rule of thirds for another gets you the best photo.

In the video above, Andy Mumford offers up an excellent tutorial on landscape composition.

His tips shed light into his workflow and how he's able to create landscape photos with life, vitality, and interest.

Follow along in the video, and for a play-by-play of each tip, read on below.

First Things First: Understand How Your Camera Sees Things

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When we stand before a landscape, our eyes automatically adjust and edit the scene.

That is, they help make sense and order out of the chaos by helping us focus our attention on the most important features and eliminating those that don't require our attention.

However, our cameras cannot do that. They capture every single detail which, left uncomposed, has the potential to overwhelm viewers as they look at the photo.

So, composing better landscape photos requires you to simply understand that your camera needs help to create order and balance in the shot. Here's how to do that.

Use Leading Lines

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It's not good enough to simply point your camera at something pretty...

In the image above, you can see that pointing the camera at an interesting rock formation doesn't result in a very good photo. There's no depth or interest in the image.

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However, in looking at this shot, you can see how adding something as simple as leading lines helps create a much better photograph.

Instead of there being massive areas of the photo that provide nothing of interest, now we have something that moves our eyes from one area of the photo to next, creating a more dynamic viewing experience. 

The lines in the image above help pull our eyes deeper into the shot, from the foreground to the midground to the background, so that we experience the image as a whole.

Editor's Tip: Leading lines don't have to be straight or parallel. Experiment with the angle of view and perspective you use when composing the photo to see what kind of lines you can create in the shot.

Beware of Object Placement

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Not every landscape scene you photograph is going to have obvious leading lines.

However, you can help create leading lines or other means of visual interest by working on where you place objects in the frame.

In the photo above, Andy used the placement of the barnacle-covered drum in the foreground as an alternative to leading lines.

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Notice how the object is placed low in the frame, that way it grabs our attention in the foreground.

But also notice how it's placed directly in line with the interesting rock formation in the background. That was done to help connect those two objects, which helps move our eyes deeper into the shot (just like a leading line!).

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Try Isolating Objects

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Sometimes, isolating the subject in the shot actually does the photo more good than trying to incorporate foreground elements as described in the previous tip.

In the shot above, Andy purposefully worked to eliminate details from the scene so that the mangrove tree retains our attention.

So, he moved closer to the tree to eliminate areas of the reef that protruded above the water.

He also used a long exposure to blur the water to create a smooth surface.

Combined with the perfectly flat horizon and soft light, these little tricks aided in isolating the tree for a very strong composition.

Editor's Tip: Another way to isolate landscape elements is to shoot with a telephoto lens. Get tips for telephoto landscape photography by clicking here.

Find a Focal Point

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One of the best tips for composing better landscape photos is to ensure that your image has a strong focal point that grabs the attention of viewers.

In the image above, though it's very pretty, it lacks a strong focal point. Instead of there being an object that our eyes go to immediately, we're left looking at all the detail in the foreground without having a way to easily explore the rest of the shot.

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In this image, though, you can see how adding a strong focal point totally changes the image.

In this case, our eyes follow the leading lines created by the rocks in the foreground right to Andy, who has positioned himself perfectly in the photo to serve as the focal point of the image.

Furthermore, because he's looking in the direction of the sun, our eyes continue past him, along his focal plane, toward the right side of the shot from which the sun's rays emanate.

Just imagine this photo without the man in it - it wouldn't be nearly as successful, would it?

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Scan the Edges of the Frame

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Something as simple as a tree branch or a shadow encroaching on the edge of the shot can reduce the overall quality of the image.

That's why it's so important to scan the edges of the frame before you finalize the shot.

Granted, you can maneuver around some things in post-processing by cropping the offending element out of the photo.

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However, it's good practice to get into the habit of scanning the scene before you take the shot, that way you have the best possible image (like the one above) with which to work in post-processing.

Editor's Tip: When scanning the frame, also ensure that there's plenty of room between the elements in the shot and the edge of the frame. If you frame the shot too tightly, it could feel a little cramped.

Don't Be Afraid to Subtract Elements

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When composing a compelling landscape photo, it's important that you ask yourself if there's anything in the shot that needn't be there or that detracts from the look and feel of the image.

If there is, you need to subtract it from the shot.

In the photo above, the tallest tree on the left doesn't really serve much of a purpose. In fact, it pulls our eyes over to it instead of allowing them to travel deeper into the shot towards the gorgeous mountain.

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In this example, however, you can see that by moving to the right and eliminating that tree from the frame that a more powerful image results.

Granted, there's a much better sky in this photo, too, but by taking the tree out of the equation, our eyes are freer to be pulled toward the mountain as they should.

And there you have it - six can't-miss landscape photography tips that will help you compose a better shot!



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A Guide to the Perfect Portrait

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What's so great about portraiture is that you have a never-ending supply of subjects available to you, each with his or her own unique look.

Beyond that, there are a ton of different types of portraits, from headshots to action shots to indoor and outdoor portraits and everything in between.

Factor in posing, wardrobe, lighting, and composition, and you have a genre of photography that offers a lifetime of opportunities to learn more about photography.

If you're just getting into portraiture - or even if you've been at it for a while - this guide walks you through some of the basic things to know to get a perfect portrait.

Natural Lighting

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An ideal way to get more involved in portraiture is to focus on natural light portraits.

Images like the one above no doubt have gorgeous scenery, but it isn't as simple as finding a nice location and snapping a few photos.

To begin with, not all natural light is made equal. For example, at noon on a sunny day, the light has a harsh quality to it with strong shadows and intense, blue-colored light. However, shoot a portrait on a cloudy day, and even at noon, the clouds filter the sunlight, diffusing it for a much softer, more pleasing look.

The same principle applies to Golden Hour - the hour or so before sunrise and after sunset.

That early and late in the day, the sun's rays have to travel through more of the atmosphere. That makes the light exceptionally soft.

What's more, Golden Hour lighting is much warmer than mid-day lighting. That golden hue is often quite pleasing for portraits.

Here's a couple of do's and don'ts when it comes to using natural lighting...

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Try a Reflector

A 5-in-1 reflector pack is one of the most versatile and inexpensive camera accessories you can buy.

These reflectors help you bounce light onto the subject to fill in shadows, but do so in a variety of ways:

  • Silver brightens the light, making it more intense.
  • Gold warms up the light, mimicking Golden Hour lighting.
  • White adds a softness to the light while minimizing shadows.
  • Translucent can be used as a diffuser to minimize shadows.
  • Black is an anti-reflector to be used when you need to enhance shadows.

Of course, there's a good way and a not so good way to use reflectors. Get the scoop on how to use them effectively in the video above from Joe Edelman.

Avoid Shooting in Direct Sun

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As noted earlier, direct sunlight is harsh and produces very pronounced shadows, like those you see on the man's face in the image above.

This doesn't mean that you can't take a good portrait outdoors during the day though...

Likely the easiest trick is to find some shade.

By positioning your subject under the shade of a tree, you eliminate those harsh shadows and can get a much more pleasing portrait, like the one below.

What's more, by seeking shade you reduce the likelihood that your subject will be squinting in the photo.

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If there aren't any trees nearby, there are other approaches you can take:

  • Wait for a passing cloud to obscure the sun to take the photo.
  • Create your own shade by using a reflector to block the sun from the subject's face.
  • Head indoors and place your subject near a window to capitalize on natural light.

Let's explore that last point - window light - a little more in the next section.

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Use Windows to Diffuse Light

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You can use natural lighting even indoors by placing your subject near a window.

There are several ways you can go about doing this to get different looks.

On the one hand, you can use light coming directly through the window (like in the image above) to create a high-contrast look with nice shadows that add dynamic range to the shot but are much less harsh than they would be outdoors.

On the other hand, you can position the subject in front of the window and shoot toward the light, making a nice silhouette.

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Lastly, you can diffuse the light entering the window by drawing the curtains or even hanging a white sheet over the window.

Doing so has a similar effect as clouds, scattering the light more evenly through the room to minimize shadows and soften the light.

Note how in the image above, there are no bright highlights or deep shadows - just nice, even lighting that gently falls on the model's face.

Get a few tips on using natural window lighting for portraits (and see some gorgeous example photos) in the video below by Jana Williams:

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Artificial Lighting - Fill Flash

Although natural lighting is great for portraits, to an extent, you're at the mercy of the time of day to get the kind of light quality you want.

However, if you mix natural and artificial lighting, you'll have more leeway regarding how the lighting looks in your portraits.

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For example, without artificial lighting, the model in the image above would likely be underexposed due to the brightness of the sky in the background.

To get a quality exposure, you can meter for the sky and fill in the foreground with a flash to get a similar effect as seen above.

The key is to ensure you have a good balance between natural and artificial lighting - you don't want the flash to be so in-your-face that it's obvious one was used. On the other hand, you don't want the natural lighting to overpower the flash, resulting in odd shadows.

Blending natural and artificial lighting certainly requires a little more legwork than just relying on natural light.

What's more, as you learn in the video above by Tony and Chelsea Northrup, there's some essential pieces of lighting equipment you'll need as well.

Don't worry though - often all you need is a flash and a diffuser, and you'll be set!

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Headshots

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When you think of headshots, you might think of cheesy glamour shots at the mall or portraits of corporate executives.

But headshots are much more than that.

A headshot allows you to highlight the greatest differences from one person to the next.

Apart from identical twins, everyone has different eyes, foreheads, noses, mouths, and chins, making us each unique and distinguishable from everyone else.

In a lot of ways, getting a great headshot is fairly straightforward. By that I mean there's not as much consideration for the background because the shot is framed so tightly, nor do you have to think as much about the composition of the shot, again, because you're simply placing the person's face in the middle of the frame.

Manage Depth of Field

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As with any portrait, it's necessary that you manage the depth of field in a headshot such that your subject is in sharp focus and the background is nicely blurred.

There are a number of factors that influence depth of field:

  • Aperture - the larger the aperture, the shallower the depth of field. For headshots, an aperture of f/2 or larger is advisable.
  • Distance to the subject - the closer you are to the subject, the shallower the depth of field.
  • Distance from the subject to the background - the further the background is from the subject, the shallower the depth of field.
  • Sensor size - the larger the sensor, the shallower the depth of field.

In most cases, the depth of field in portraits will be manipulated with the aperture and the distance to the subject. To get an idea of what a shallow depth of field portrait looks like (and how to create one), check the video below by Gavin Hoey:

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Help Pose the Head

Even though headshots are quite simple, you still need to give your subject direction regarding how to hold their head.

By and large, headshots are taken from slightly to the left or right of center, like the image below.

But as you can see, it's not just the subject's face in the shot - you can also see her neck, shoulders, and arms.

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As a result, have your subject straighten their back, with shoulders rolled back, neck extended, and the chin slightly upward.

This elongates the body, helping the subject to appear taller (and thinner) than they actually are.

What's more, this helps avoid poor posture (i.e., a rounded back) and also helps minimize the appearance of a double chin.

In addition to positioning your camera slightly off-center, it's also important to be aware of the height from which you shoot.

Go for an eye-level shot such that the subject's eyes are highlighted in the frame. This will help to create a stronger connection between viewers and the subject of the portrait.

Consider the Lighting

As was discussed earlier, natural lighting is great for many types of portraits, including headshots. Just remember to find some shade or place your subject near a window to get softer natural lighting.

If you're shooting indoors with a flash, place the subject in front of a nondescript background, like a wall with a plain paint color.

Then, position one light (preferably with a softbox) above the model's face. Then add a reflector below the subject's face to bounce light up towards them to reduce shadowing.

Get more insights on classic portrait lighting setups in this guide.

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Putting It All Together

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Portraiture is a rewarding endeavor, whether you're simply taking photos of your kids or you want to do it for a living.

Using the tips outlined in this article, you'll be in a better position to create portraits that make your subject look good and make you proud of the work you've done.

This isn't an end-all, be-all tutorial by any means, but it will certainly get you headed in the right direction.

Now all that's left for you to do is grab a subject, get your gear, and start taking better portraits!



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These Foolproof Tricks Will Help You Take Better Photos

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So you want to learn how to take better photos?

Lucky for you, making progress with your photography doesn't necessarily have to be a difficult exercise.

Now, don't get me wrong - becoming a better photographer does take a lot of time, patience, and practice.

But sometimes knowing where to focus your attention can get you better results, and faster.

If you want to step up your photography game, consider these easy but effective composition tips.

Know the Rules of Composition (and When to Break Them)

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When it comes to composition, there's no more ubiquitous rule than the rule of thirds...

You know, the idea that if you break the image into nine equal quadrants and place your subject at the intersecting points of those quadrants that you'll end up with a better photo.

And much of the time, the rule works great, as you can see in the image above.

Notice how the subject is in a place of prominence in the shot, which helps draw our eye.

But also note how there's room in the shot above her head, and, more importantly, room in the shot to our left for the model to look into.

These tricks help ensure that the photo is balanced and that your eye immediately goes to the most important element in the shot - the model.

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But knowing basic compositional rules of photography is only half the equation. You also need to know that these rules are meant to be bent or broken.

Take a look at the image above, and note how it doesn't adhere to the rule of thirds.

Yet, the shot is a good one that's quite compelling.

By placing the model in the middle of the shot, the photographer created a scene with greater symmetry. That symmetry, in turn, leads to visual tension in the shot that makes it interesting to view.

So, it's important to understand the rule of thirds and know how to implement it in your photography. But if you use the rule of thirds for every single shot, you'll find that your images become predictable, and perhaps even boring.

If you want better photos, learn how to switch things up and break the rules when needed.

Add Compositional Elements That Create Interest

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There are tons and tons of compositional elements at your disposal that make for a more interesting shot.

You can add a frame within a frame to a portrait, a landscape, or any other type of photo, for that matter, which gives the image depth, dimension, and helps direct the viewer's eye to the subject.

In the image above, you can see how the trees on the left and right sides of the frame give the shot a "tunnel vision" feel.

That, in turn, directs our eye towards the woman in the distance. So, even though she's in the background of the shot, the frame within the frame technique still ensures that she's the focal point of the image.

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Leading lines are an essential tool for photographers as well.

They are especially popular for landscape photography and are used as a means of helping to give viewers a pathway to explore the photo from one area to the next.

In the image above, the lines of lavender plants act as the ideal vehicle by which to direct our attention to the mountains and the setting sun in the background.

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But leading lines aren't just for landscapes...

In this shot, the lines created by the body of the train and the train windows drive our eyes toward the woman.

When using leading lines in this manner, it's important that the lines work with you and not against you.

By that I mean that the lines should point toward the subject. That doesn't mean they have to be straight lines or even obvious lines. But the best results are garnered by having the lines lead to the most important part of the shot.

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We all know the importance of light to photography, but you can use it for more than just creating a well-exposed image.

Our eyes tend to be drawn to bright objects, so using light in a creative manner can help you make a more visually impactful image.

In the portrait above, notice how the larger scene is quite dark, but by placing the boy in the one area of light in the room, the photographer was able to create an image that has a lot of visual appeal.

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The same can be said of this image, too.

The shafts of light coming through the forest not only contrast with the dark, linear forms of the tree trunks, but they also serve to highlight the canopy of the trees.

Without this kind of lighting, this forest scene would not be nearly as dramatic, nor would it have the same feeling of warmth and depth.

If all else fails in your images, look for opportunities to incorporate interesting lighting, and you'll have a better photo on your hands.

Change Your Perspective

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Something as simple as changing the point of view of the shot is another simple way to take a better photo.

When you look at most portraits, what do you see? An eye-level shot of the model, right?

And there's nothing wrong with that...

However, to create something more unique and visually stimulating, taking a very low perspective or a high perspective can generate a portrait that's got much more capability to grab the viewer's attention.

The image above, for example, makes a more powerful statement because the photographer is so low to the ground.

What that accomplishes is that it makes the motorcycle and its rider look more powerful and imposing.

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You can also take a photo from a very high perspective to give viewers a more unique view of your subject.

In this case, the landscape takes on a whole new look when photographed via drone from above.

Rather than looking out at a landscape, we instead look down on it for a texture and color-filled view that's seldom seen.

Making Better Photos Doesn't Need to Be Complicated!

As you can see in the images above, creating photos with more impact is often a matter of using a simple trick or finding new ways to compose your shots to create something far more interesting.

Often, just breaking the rules, using light to your advantage, or changing your perspective is enough to get results that are much more pleasing to the eye.

Now it's just a matter of grabbing your gear and giving these simple tricks a try!

Check out these composition tips and see them at work in the video above by Mango Street Lab. Be sure to subscribe to their channel for even more great tips!



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