Shooting portrait in photography requires some measure of professionalism. Portrait shooting, when done right can give your images a very professional look. However, most people struggle with this method of shooting for various reasons that could range from the use of the wrong lens, incorrect exposure, poor use of light, and so forth.
Knowing what to do and how to do it correctly can help make portrait photography a very appealing work. In this article, we look at some tips that could help you in shooting portraits – the correct and professional way.
Portrait Shooting Tips:
1. Choose the Perfect Background
In photography, the choice of background can help emphasize your subject positively or detract attention from it. There is no doubt that the background is just as important as the subject of the shoot; it is, therefore, wise to choose a neutral and uncluttered background that will not distract the viewer’s attention from the portrait subject.
2. Prepare Your Subject For The Shoot
No matter how good your camera is or how experienced you are, your portrait shoot can be ruined if your subject isn’t ready, comfortable, or at ease. Your job is to make sure that the shooting process is stress-free for the subject as taking photographs can be an unnatural and stressful experience for some people. Do everything you can to make the subject feel relaxed and have fun at the same time. You should also check your subject for anything that might be out of place from the outcome you want, such as fluff on shirts, missing buttons, half-tucked in shirts, etc.
3. Ensure That Your Model/Subject is Well Lit
Basically, natural light is the best source of light for portrait photography, especially if you are working outside a studio. However, taking a photo in direct sunlight can be unforgiving on the skin because direct sunlight creates strong, hard shadows on the subject’s face. In such conditions, it is best to find some sort of light shade to position your subject. Use natural light through a window screen or shutter blinds which can help soften the harshness of the light and help to obtain an awesome portrait shot.
4. Shoot From The Right Height
It is important to ensure that you shoot your subject from the right elevation. You can achieve this by using the right props to elevate or lower your camera for the best shot possible.
5, Use Wide Aperture
Conventionally, a wide-angle lens isn’t the first choice of most photographers when shooting a portrait, because it naturally distorts whatever you put in front of it. However, while most photographers use a 50mm standard lens, shooting with a wide-angle lens challenges you to get creative.
6. Focus On What Is Closest
When taking a portrait of a group, focus on the person that is closest to the camera while shooting with a large aperture. If you don’t do that, you may find that the person in front of the group may be out of focus even though they are the ones at the front of the group.
7. Blur The Background Using Aperture Priority Mode
One of the ways to ensure that you raise the quality of your portrait is to shoot with a shallow depth of field. This ensures that your subject is in sharp focus while the background appears blurred or out of focus allowing your subject to stand out. The depth of field can be controlled by adjusting the camera aperture which is the opening inside your lens that allows light to travel through from the front of the camera lens to its sensor. Generally speaking, you’ll want to choose the largest aperture (smallest aperture number) that your lens offers. F/4 is a go-to aperture for portraits as it should provide enough depth of field to have your entire subject in focus.
8. Use Colour for Mood
Colour dictates the mood of your photos. You have to realize that photography is an art and artworks with balanced use of colors give the work vibrancy and makes it appealing. Always remember that color or the lack of it has power in determining the feeling a photograph evokes.
9. Shoot Candidly
I have already mentioned before that taking photographs can be an unnatural and stressful experience for some people. As a result, you may have to shoot candid pictures at such moments when your subject is most at ease or distracted. Some of the most amazing portrait shots have come from candid shots.
10. Expose for the Subject’s Face, But Shoot for the Eyes
The most important part of a portrait shoot is the subject’s face. Everything must be done to capture it right. So, make sure that the face is correctly exposed. Exposure refers to how bright or dark the image is. So it shouldn’t be too dark (i.e., underexposed) or too bright (i.e., overexposed). For a portrait, it would be better to have a background that is either too dark or too bright than to have a face that isn’t correctly exposed.
While the subject’s face may be the entire intention in a portrait shoot; you should set your lens focus to capture the eyes. Portrait photographs look their best if the eyes are in focus as it seems to indicate a sense of eye contact between the subject and the viewer, thereby creating a powerful and engaging photo.
11. Be Very Familiar and Adept with Your Equipment
If you have to fumble to change a setting then you may lose second, and in photography, seconds can be the difference between a good shot and an excellent shot. Being able to quickly change the settings on your camera or make edits to your equipment will allow you to actively get better photos!
If you follow the above tips, you will find that shooting portraits can be a worthwhile experience with photos that you and your clients can be pleased with.
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