Portrait photography is a popular commercial industry all over the world. Many people enjoy having professionally done family portraits to hang in their homes, or special portraits to commemorate certain events, such as graduations or weddings.
Portrait photography is not just capturing someone’s likeness, but actively seeking to capture their personality and emotion through photographic art.
What Is portrait photography?
Portrait photography has been around since the invention of photography itself. Portraits are often considered important historical records, as well as contributions to the world of art.
Portraits may be of an individual, but can also focus on groups of people or even animals.
Portraiture is one of the most common types of photography, as most people enjoy having pictures of themselves and their loved ones around the house.
A portrait picture might be artistic, or it may be clinical and traditional; what makes a portrait is that the focus is on a person or people’s face or expression.
Most portraiture involves some form of styling, ranging from simple clean-cut business attire to dramatic costumes and lighting.
A good portrait photographer will only take as many pictures as needed to get the perfect shot.
They won’t waste time taking unnecessary ones, which is often a problem with amateur photographers.
A great photographer will be able to tell how many shots are necessary after just a few, so they’ll only take photos when they can deliver something genuinely worthwhile without wasting time.
What Is Portrait Photography?
We often think of portraits as meticulously planned, staged, and lit works of art. But what is portrait photography?
Portrait photos are images of people. While they can be posed shots, they don’t have to be.
There are also candid portraits, where the subject isn’t aware they are photographed.
This creates an exciting dynamic in the scene, making candid photos so enjoyable.
Portrait photographers try to capture the essence of their subjects in their images.
In order, portrait photographers spend a lot of time with their subjects, discussing the look for the photo shoot and who they are and how they want to be portrayed in their image.
Suppose you’re interested in becoming a professional portrait photographer.
In that case, you’ll need to know how to take flattering portraits and help your clients express their true personalities in your images.
You’ll learn how to take great portraits by watching professionals and studying the work of other photographers.
You can also learn by practising with your friends and loved ones.
Portrait Photography Pick The Perfect Background For Your Subject
The background of a portrait is just as necessary as the subject itself.
- You have to pick the right location to make your subject stand out for a truly stunning picture.
- Telling a story with your photo is important, so you want to choose a background that compliments your subject.
- You may also be forced to work with an existing background and are looking for ways to make it work better for the photo you are trying to take.
- Here are some tips on how to pick the perfect background for your portrait:
- Choose a solid colour wrong if your subject wears solid colours in their outfit. If they wear lots of patterns, go with a patterned background instead.
- If your subject’s face or body is well lit, try using an off-camera flash on the opposite side from which the light is coming.
- This will create shadows on the side of the face that’s not being lit and give more depth to the photo.
- Try using a wide aperture (low f-stop number) when taking portraits.
- This will blur out any distracting elements in your photo, allowing for more focus on your subject.
- You can create a shallow depth of field by using one or two stops more minor than your lens’s most significant possible aperture.
- You can also use focus stacking techniques.
Portrait Photography Prepare Your Portrait Subject For The Shoot
“How do I pose my subject?” they ask. “I don’t know,” I respond. “That’s what you’re here to figure out.”
It can be challenging to know exactly where to start when photographing someone for the first time, but keep in mind that a portrait is not just a photograph of someone sitting or standing in front of the camera.
The portrait process begins long before you ever pick up your camera and continues well after the photo shoot is over.
The following tips will help you prepare your subject for their portrait session:
Know your equipment – Before you even begin to plan your shoot, make sure you are familiar with your equipment.
You want to know how to use that equipment and be comfortable with it because if you aren’t, you won’t be able to give it your full attention while you are shooting.
Your subject will notice if you are fumbling around with gear and trying to figure things out during the shoot.
When they see this, they will feel uncomfortable as well.
If you take the time to get comfortable with your equipment ahead of time, it will set a more relaxed tone for the entire experience.
Portrait Photography Tips For Mastering The Art
Photography is one of the most exciting hobbies and professions.
It requires a lot of patience and techniques, along with passion. So, here are some great portrait photography tips that will help you to master the art.
You can start by using a DSLR camera to take your photos. Make sure that you have set the white balance before taking the shot.
You can set the white balance according to the light source. For example, you should use daylight as your white balance setting if you are shooting outdoors.
If shooting indoors, use tungsten or fluorescent light as your white balance setting.*
Now that we have talked about the camera setting, it’s time to think about lighting settings for portrait photography tips.
Portrait photography requires soft lighting so that it doesn’t give any hard shadows on your subject’s face.*
Another important thing is picking up the right shot angle while capturing a portrait image.
This can significantly enhance your portrait photographs of people.*
While taking a picture of children, try to get their eye contact at the same level as where you will be standing or sitting in front of them.
Don’t shoot down on your subject from above or below their eye.
Portrait Photography Use Video Light For Night Portraits
Many people are still confused about using video lights in their portrait photography.
Many photographers consider it taboo, and people often get away with it accidentally. Here’s my take on using video light for night portraits:
Video lights for Portrait Photography.
Using video lights for portrait photography is not really a big deal as long as you understand how to use them properly and what exactly are you trying to achieve by using them.
Who should use Video Lights? If you want to start creating dramatic portraits at night (like the ones shown above), then video light is your best bet.
How to use Video Lights? It’s easier than you think. If you have experience working with studio flash, all you need is to learn how to set ISO and aperture settings.
Here’s how I do it:
I always use two flash heads: one for the subject and another for the background. I set my ISO based on how high my shutter speed should be so that I can freeze my subject movement.
Portrait Photography Focus On The Subject
The first thing you need to do is learn the rule of thirds. In this guide, I will show you how and when to use it for your photography.
Here are some examples of photos placed within the rule of thirds grid
Rule Of Thirds Grid
The primary purpose of the rule of thirds grid is to make sure that the subject in your photo is centred.
Placing your issue on one of the lines or intersections will give a more professional look to your image.
This can help if you shoot a landscape photo and want to include a person or object within the frame.
It’s also helpful for portrait photography; most cameras have a centre focus point and an auto-focus setting.
The centre focus point is usually the best place to centre yourself when taking a photo, but with portraits, it can be best to move off-centre to get more of your subject’s face in the shot.
Placing yourself off-centre also helps prevent a distracting background from appearing in your photos.
Portrait Photography Getting The Pose Right
What’s the best way to pose a portrait subject? The answer depends on the person and the desired effect. Here are three popular posing options:
- Natural posture. This is what I suggest for 95% of my clients; the reason is simple — it looks the most natural and relaxed. Let your subjects figure out how they want to sit or stand, and then get them to hold that position while you adjust your camera settings.
For example, if they want to lean against a wall, have them place their hand on their hip and hold it there while you find your focus point and take a test shot.
Then, while they keep their hand in place, you can use the other hand to adjust the lighting, etc.
- The head tilt. This one is relatively easy to do — just have your subject tilt their head slightly down and make eye contact with you (or the camera) while taking a few photos.
It’s especially effective if you’re shooting against a dark background or dramatic lightings like the backlight or rim light because it makes for a stunning silhouette effect around their face.
You can also shoot from above (shooting downward), making for a more flattering shot!
Portrait Photography Take Candid Portrait Photos
With some basic photography skills, you can take great candid portrait photos.
Candid photos are a great way to capture special moments with your family and friends.
- TIP 1: Try to capture candid portraits in natural light. Natural lighting is the best type of lighting for portrait photography.
Natural light will make your subject look more attractive. It will also allow for a wider variety of expressions on their faces. Use natural light whenever possible.
- TIP 2: When taking candid portraits of people, always try to include something to help identify the person in the image.
Whether it be a piece of clothing they are wearing (hat, belt, etc.) or a piece of jewellery (earrings, a necklace, etc.). This will help to identify the person in the photo if they do not give you an ID when they see their photo!
- TIP 3. Before taking a candid portrait, look at your subject’s face and identify some facial features that make them unique (big ears, tiny eyes, etc.) and then try to include those facial features into the photo.
This will help personalise your subject by giving them something unique about themselves that shows up in your picture!
Break The Rules Of Portrait Photography
It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. Your subject is in place, and the lighting is perfect. You’ve got your camera ready, with a clear shot in mind. You look through the viewfinder and…
Tears drip down your subject’s face. Sweat beads on their brow. They look like they’re about to throw up.
Maybe you remembered to tell them to smile, but you didn’t ask them to do anything else.
Or perhaps you did, but it was too much for them to remember — or it didn’t make any sense to them.
As a portrait photographer, it’s your job to get a great shot that looks natural and shows off your subject’s personality, whether they’re looking directly into the camera or off into the distance (or at nothing).
You want to capture that special moment when everything is right — even if it seems wrong to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
Falling Short of Portrait Perfection?
You might think it’s as simple as telling your subjects how to pose and what expressions they should make.
But photography is much more complex than that, and there are many different ways that even professional photographers can mess things up — including you!
Shoot A Series Of Portrait Shots
A great portrait is all about capturing the personality of the subject. Images need to be more than a simple pictures.
In fact, portrait photography can be one of the most challenging areas of photography for beginners but also one of the most rewarding.
You can use many different styles and techniques, from candid photos to posed portraits and everything in between.
Trying out different techniques will help you find a style that works for you. If you’re shooting a series of portraits, try your hand at some variations on each shot.
For example, shoot a few posed shots if you are going for a candid look.
By taking pictures with different styles and poses, you’ll have plenty to choose from when it comes time to edit your photos!
- Try to capture moments in time.
When taking a series of portraits, try to shoot some with your subject looking at the camera and others where they are not paying attention.
This will give you plenty of variety to choose from when editing your images.
Also, try out some poses facing forward towards the camera and somewhere they are looking off into the distance.
- Capture expressions
You may want to try different reactions like smiles, frowns, or even something funny.
Portrait Photography Summary
A snapshot of a person or group of people.
A portrait is a photograph that typically captures the likeness, expression, and personality of the subject(s), especially the face and shoulders.
Portrait photography is a genre of photography capturing portraits – images of people, both anonymous individuals and well-known people.
Portrait photographs range from informal to highly formal shots and from random snapshots to meticulously planned and executed works.
The term ‘portrait painting’ refers to an image of a person in paint;
- however, many portraits are made in other media, including pencil drawing, pastels, photography, video and sculpture; “head” or “headshot” can refer to a picture (of either a human or an animal) in any medium with whatever facial features are visible.
- An image often shows a person looking directly at the painter or photographer to most successfully engage the subject with the viewer. The primary purpose of a portrait is to display characteristics of the subject (such as physical appearance or expressions) to record or document some aspect of the subject’s life.
- A portrait may be artistic, or it may be photographic. A photograph or series of pictures that constitute a completed portrait is often called a