- By photographer confident, with different lighting set-ups feel it is best to keep things simple. Some of the best portraits are taken with natural light. Good tips for outdoor scenes are the backdrop for the subject into the light (fill flash fire may be necessary to get the shadow on “Face-Lifting). People have good photos in the rough, reflecting sun – creating dark shadows under the eyes and nose, then lifts inflammation of the skin and makes them tend to squint! Move it into the shadows for better results. Diffused light as the light is on cloudy days, good for portraits. Best of all, try to shoot for an hour “golden” – it was soft light fantastic views in the last hour before sunset.
- Shoot from a quirky angle or different perspective. Most portraits are shot at eye level, altering the perspective even slightly can change the mood of the picture. Shooting just below a person’s eye line can be very flattering.
- Think about the background. Decide whether a clean, minimalist background is best for the subject or if something more dramatic is preferred. Also, check the background for any distracting clutter, clashing lines or colors.
- The photographer needs to make the subject relax so that they can capture that “x factor” – a fleeting expression which reveals something of a person’s character and makes for a cracking portrait. Be prepared before asking the subject to pose – fiddling with camera settings are not the ideal way to build rapport. Most people will feel a little shy initially when posing for a portrait so talk to them, crack a few jokes – anything to put them at ease.
- Never say “cheese”! This is an obvious one but worth pointing out. The aim of portraiture is to get people to drop their “camera face” – the expression everyone automatically puts on the minute a camera appears. Most people have been brainwashed into thinking they have to smile and look happy for the camera but the most powerful portraits often show different emotions.
- Portrait photography is always full of surprises, so try and be open to them. Don’t be afraid of tension with the subject. The most famous photograph of Winston Churchill ever taken (captured with a scowling expression by Yusuf Karsh) was the result of tension between photographer and subject (Yusuf removed the cigar from Churchill’s mouth and Churchill was evidently unimpressed). Watch the subject, how he or she moves, learn to watch for great body language or natural poses. They will look much better than any “posed” position.
- Use a wide aperture setting to throw the background out of focus, making the subject much more prominent. A general rule in portrait photography is to keep the subject’s eyes in focus