Simple Tips for Better Portraits

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better portrait tips

"summer..." captured by Irina Oreshina (Click Image to See More From Irina Oreshina)

Whether armed with an expensive SLR or just a smart phone camera there is an art to taking good pictures of people. With some thought and some practice you’ll be the go to person in your group for taking the photos. Here is a collection of some simple but effective tips for improving one’s results.

Get Closer: A common problem is standing too far back or not zoom in enough. Especially for head shots, get close so there is less background to distract from the subject. Same is with group photos. Instead of lining people up and having to move back, try and get people in rows.

Better Composition: A head in the middle of the photo is not very interesting, so compose your shot so the subject’s head is in the upper two-thirds of the frame or a bit to one side or the other. Also you can have your subject move into an interesting position.

Depth of Field: If your camera allows it, use a low f-stop to limit depth of field. This will make the background blur out while the subject will be sharp. This has a highlighting effect and anything behind the person will be less distracting.

Don’t Pose Your Subject: Unless you’re taking a portrait of a professional model, most people do not ‘pose’ very well. Try and get outside or somewhere your subject can move and look around. Move with them and snap the photos as they look around. You’ll be amazed at how much better your portraits will look.

Posing- Okay, if you have to pose someone, try some of these tricks pros use. Have the person look anywhere but the camera and then when you’re ready to snap have them look toward you. Another trick is to have the subject bend forward for a moment and then stand up and look at the camera. Making your subject laugh can help too. Also, don’t have your subject stand fully facing you. These head on shots are not flattering.

Be Aware of Lighting Conditions: Bright sun can cause deep shadows or make your subject squint. Try and find a shady spot or use the fill-flash option on your camera if it has one. Any strong light source can also cause shadows. Again, use a fill-flash or move the subject away to softer light source.

portrait photo

"Old Man on the Door" captured by Lysander Jugo (Click Image to See More From Lysander Jugo)

Read Your Manual: Using digital cameras today is so easy most people only take a quick look at the manual to learn how to turn the camera on. Most cameras are feature rich and have specific settings for portraiture, groups and other situations. Learn how to use the settings and put them into use when appropriate.

Take Lots of Photos: With a digital camera one can try lots of different techniques, angles and locations. Don’t be satisfied with a few photos. If inside, try and move outside and vice versa. Try different lighting and poses. This will give you plenty of options.

Learn Photo Editing Software: Even the simplest software is very sophisticated these days and can make a dull photo better by enhancing colours, contrast and composition. The web is full of helpful instructions on how to achieve certain effects.

portrait techniques

"Irina" captured by Lilia Tkachenko (Click Image to See More From Lilia Tkachenko)

These simple tips will improve your photos dramatically. The most important tip though is to practice! Keep your camera handy when people are around and get snapping.

About the Author:
The Positive View Foundation has the expertise in the field of photography, as demonstrated at the Landmark contemporary photography exhibition.

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  1. Linh Nguyen says:

    “Another trick is to have the subject bend forward for a moment and then stand up and look at the

    Lol, that made me laugh. Should I ask them to do open lips and head slightly tilted too?

  2. Keko Adrian says:

    This information is very useful for me, because I was studying photography, this article really was really adding my knowledge in the world of photography, especially portrait photography, thanks very much

  3. Timothy says:

    The top picture, I am trying to take this style of picture, and I find them all over the net, however, I am unable to find out what to do to get that style. Can anyone help me?

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