When it comes to photography, there are two main types that come to mind for most people: portrait photography and landscape photography.
Together, these two types of photos encompass nearly everything we try to photograph. But the more difficult of the two is, arguably, the portrait.
When it comes to landscapes, it can be easier to just find a good angle and take a picture — all you really need to do is focus on the background, because in many cases there are no subjects to worry about.
With portraits, though, you have to focus on many different aspects. There is the subject, of course, which is usually a person that you have to work with to pose and capture. But there is so much more when it comes to taking a great portrait than just the subject.
That’s why we’ve put together these tips to help you get the perfect shot.
Portrait Photography Tip #1
Where You Stand Matters
When it comes to taking a great portrait, it’s not just about where your subject is. It’s also about where you choose to set up your camera and how close you choose to photograph your subject.
Where you stand in relation to your subject determines the type of photo you capture. If you want to take a portrait that looks like a portrait, in that it looks very much like a planned effort on both your and your subject’s part, you need to get close.
It can be incredibly difficult to take a portrait of someone from far away, because they often get lost in the background and the people who view your portrait will get lost in the other elements of your photo instead of the subject.
When people view portrait photography, one of the main focus points is the subject’s eyes. If you aren’t close enough to be able to see their eyes and the expression within them, you lose a lot of the impact your photo could have had.
On the contrary, some photographers like to take more candid shots of their subjects. In cases like this, you want to be far away so that you aren’t being intrusive to the natural flow of the subject in their environment.
So if you’re photographing someone just for the sake of taking a portrait of them, don’t be afraid to get close. And if you’re trying to take a more natural photo of a subject in their surroundings, stay out of the way. Your position makes a difference.
Portrait Photography Tip #2
Another great thing to remember when you’re taking a portrait is that the colors of your photo matter. If you want your subject to stand out, you need to make sure that their background, their clothing, and their skin are contrasted enough from one another that they don’t blend together.
If you’re photographing someone with fair skin in a white dress against a lightly-colored background, your subject is going to fade into the back instead of standing out the way they should. If you photograph the same subject with the same background but in a colorful dress, it’s the dress that will stand out the most.
But, if you photograph this subject against a darker background with clothes that pop without washing them out or stealing the show, now you have a portrait where the subject stands out the way they should.
Portrait Photography Tip #3
Portrait Photography Tip #3
Some of the greatest portraits happen because the photographer was not afraid to try new things. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things, because there is a lot that you can do.
- Experiment with different types of lighting
- Ask your subject to try different poses and facial expressions
- Try taking photos from different perspectives
- Change up the composition of the photo by playing with the subject and their environment
- Switch between more posed and more candid shots of your subject
There is so much that you can do to increase the interest of a portrait, so don’t limit yourself. Try new things, and don’t be afraid of taking a few bad photos. You never know when you might hit the jackpot and land a great photo you never could have captured before.
We have some more Tips about taking pictures of people in our Wedding photography article.