Forget Mugshots: 10 Steps to Better Portraits by David duChemin aims to help you take your portrait photography to the professional level. The author tried to pick the ten most significant factors that, combined, contribute to making powerful portraits. With valuable insights and many exercises to retain the information, it is a great training resource.
A snapshot is a photograph of something, but a portrait is a photograph about something, or someone. It says more than, this is what so and so looks like; it dares to say, this is what they are like. It’s descriptive, and limited, for sure. No portrait presumes to say, this is the whole person. But it should show us something of that person.
How we accomplish that revelation depends on how well we know the subject and how well we know our craft. It can happen in a glance when the subject forgets, or gets bored with, the photographer, or it can happen as a result of the interaction between photographer and subject.
Topics Covered (35 Pages):
- Relating to the Subject
- Creative Exercise: Building trust
- Waiting for the Right Moment
- Creative Exercise: Waiting for the subject to relax
- Using the “Right” Lens
- Creative Exercise: Trying other focal lengths
- Using More than one Frame
- Creative Exercise: Multiple frames to show expressions
- Understanding the Smile
- Creative Exercise: Studying smiles
- Watching the Eyes
- Creative Exercise: Understanding catchlights in the eyes
- Playing with Lighting
- Creative Exercise: Using 5-in-1 reflector discs
- Controlling the Background
- Creative Exercise: Backgrounds that contribute
- Get Level, Point of View
- Creative Exercise: Portraits from various levels
- Pose Carefully
- Creative Exercise: Effectively directing a subject
duChemin says, “There is much more to making great portraits than a step-by-step guide. Portraits are about people. In the case of photographic portraits, it’s often about two people: the photographer and the subject. It’s a collaborative thing and it’s worth the time to do it slowly, intentionally, and as foremost a relational process, with an aesthetic destination. Only then are the mechanics and techniques worth pursuing, I think.”
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