As a photographer, portraits can be a lucrative business, but dealing with living subjects and capturing human form can be tricky. You may also find that you deal with children which brings challenges of their own but ultimately portrait photography is a medium that every photographer needs to learn and do well as it lends to other forms and progression. Here are the basics you need to know:
1. Change The Eye Level
Get your subjects to look elsewhere; up, down or to other subjects or items in the frame to make the image more interesting and help tell a story. It is common for amateur photographers to have their subjects stare into the camera but this can be unnatural and take away from the situation, making the images come across as stiff or forced.
2. Wide Apertures
You want to capture shallow depth of field with portraits so aim for wide aperture so that you can blur the backgrounds and focus on the subject itself. Prioritize your aperture on your camera, particularly if you have a DSLR which should have settings to help, you should aim for f/2.8-f/5.6
3. Fast Shutter Speeds
Unlike inanimate objects, people move, particularly if they are uncomfortable in front of a camera and that’s not to mention the emotion that they show on their faces. Try to capture a moment crisply even if they move by using a fast shutter speed for sharpness.
4. It’s All About Lighting
As with any photography, it’s all about the lighting and effects that these create! For portraits, you can experiment with this in ways such as backlights that silhouette the subjects or blurred lighting in the foreground which is popular for wedding portraits! Just remember that natural light can be a photographer’s best friend.
5. Capture Expressions
In a portrait, the human subject is heavily scrutinized and captured in clarity which means that expression and subtle face movements are evident. This can be a powerful element to display and one that adds more depth to your portraits. You can do this by making your subjects feel more comfortable and changing the environment around them to suit you.
Portraits are a fine art to master but highly rewarding if you do. Just remember that you can still think outside the box and get creative with portrait photography.