Portrait photography or portraiture is the capture by means of photography of the likeness of a person or a small group of people (a group portrait), in which the face and expression is predominant. This type of photography aims to showcase the likeness, mood and personality of the subject sending a unique story to those seeing it. The focus of the picture is usually the face but some also include other parts of the person or the entire body with the background. There are portraits taken for non-professional purposes but merely to store memories or take as a personal treasure. But there are also some that are taken for commercial purposes used for posters, billboards, cd covers, book covers and others.

Whatever the purpose is, you would be pleased to know that today, we will give you tips for taking excellent portrait photographs. Portrait photography might be your line of interest, hence, this post is for you. And if you are just new in the field, we hope that the following tips we have below could be of help in creating your portrait pictures.

1. Know the purpose.

Know the purpose
Image: Dina Bova

Before you take the picture, you need to know the purpose of the image. The manner of taking it and how it looks would greatly be affected on how it could be used. You can determine if you need to get a larger picture of the face or if it is okay to just get an angle of it. You can also determine if it has to be taken vertically or horizontally. Like, if you are taking a picture of a baby, you could take it horizontally if it is indeed for a birthday invitation or welcome baby shower announcement.

2. Choose your subject.

Choose your subject

Depending on the kind of picture you want, choose your model or your subject. It can be anyone you want who you think is right for the project. If you are working for a commercial project, it would be better to have nice looking models who looks friendly and approachable. The model doesn’t need to be sexy and very gorgeous. The important thing is how he or she looks to the people and that he or she can relay the right message. If you are just taking a picture for fun or for personal use, choose any subject that is interesting.

3. Choose the location.

Choose the location
Image: Geoffrey Jones

Look for location that is great for the shoot. See to it that the background is good. Avoid backgrounds that has much clutter for it will seemingly drown your subject into the environment. Choose an environment that can give more emphasis and focus to the subject. You can also provide a backdrop when needed.

4. Plan the poses.

Plan the poses
Image: Stéphanie Toselli

Before you start, you should have some poses in mind. This can keep the shooting scene more energetic. Pausing once in a while just because you still have to think of a pose will only tire the model and will waste time. So, take time to plan the poses first and make sure it is creative. When you have come to the location, be sure that you will be able to give the directions properly. It also depends on you on how you can direct them to show emotions.

5. Take different emotions.

Take different emotions
Image: Ilya Rashap

Do not just focus on smiling all the time. There should be various emotions in the face of the subject. Some shoots may show the teeth, some may not. Some may look serious, some may look mysterious. There are even portraits that look sad. Try different emotions and you will surely love the output.

6. Make use of props.

Make use of props
Image: Sandy Powers

Using props can help your model to feel relaxed and at ease. It can also add drama to your picture. Props can be a great aid in telling a story to those looking at it. It can make your picture have an interesting and mysterious look. You can see that pictures that uses props has a different impact to the viewers.

7. Have a candid look.

Have a candid look
Image: Ervan Nanggalo

A picture tells more stories when it is candid. But if you want a model or a subject to pose in the camera according to how you like it, you can still give it a candid look. You can do this by letting your subject look away from the camera. You can make the subject look at something in the environment like a flower or anything. This way, you are making it appear that the shot was taken without artistic direction. It gives the picture a more interesting look.

8. Experiment on different lenses.

Experiment on different lenses
Image: senju-hime

Try using various lenses when you are taking portrait photos. This can alter the output. It can create a different look to your image. Of course, there would a difference if you use a 50mm lens or a 24 mm lens. Choose which one you would like to use that could give you the result you need.

9. Use different framings.

Use different framings
Image: Monika Penkuku

There are various ways to use framing for your image. Merely by letting the model pose in an arc door or lean on a table could already make a good frame. Look for creative ways to make the picture appear flattering and you will be able to guide the eye towards the subject. Using your environment as a frame is a smart manner of making your photo unique.

10. Try different lightings.

Try different lightings
Image: Bill Gekas

You can give your portrait pictures a unique feel by using different lightings. You can overexpose it to make it look bright but you can also use low-key lightings to make it look a bit darker. When using lighting, make sure that it could give a clear picture of the face. When taking a portrait picture outside, you can let the subject face away from the sun and then over-expose the picture to allow the face to be exposed. You can also look for “golden hours” to provide some glow in the skin. For indoor shoots, you can let the subject stay near the window to give it soft indirect light. It can even give catchlights to the subject.

11. Fill the frame.

Fill the frame
Image: Yudhistira Yogasara

A portrait picture can look unique from what you usually see in social network accounts. You can do that my filling the frame in order to show some detail. You can zoom in on the subject’s face. Some even creatively zoom into the hands, eyes, hair and others. It certainly makes the picture distinct and beautiful.

12. Use different angles.

Use different angles
Image: shutterstock

Aside from the different lights and framing that you can apply, you can also make use of different angles. This can make your images more fun. It may even have a different effect on the image which could emphasize some parts of the subject. Experiment an angle that you think looks good. You will surely have fun doing this while getting great pictures. When taking pictures candidly, use a wide-angle lens to capture the subject’s environment, so as to relay a better story.

It’s Your Turn Now

It is truly interesting to take portrait pictures especially that there are various ways you can try in order to take a good shoot. It would certainly be fun to do that. Let your creativity work to get a great result. You might also want to see tips for still life photography, macro photography tips and other photography tips that could be of help to you. Have you tried doing portrait photography? Can you add some tips to our list?

Ebrian Acebedo

About the author: A Licensed Medical Practitioner who apparently likes web design and business.