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Photo Techniques - Portrait Photography
The following article is provided by My Digital Works. Please see the end of the article for more details.
Images © Calvin Hass.
How to Take Portrait Photos
To really dive into the portrait topic we want to briefly discuss the importance of noticing the details. We discuss it here during portraitures because generally these will be formal situations that get blown up and put in the living room. When you are arranging your shot take notice of elements in your composition before you even bring your camera up to your eye. Look for a ruffled pant leg that exposes somebody's white socks. Look for crunches in dresses that will make a relatively skinny lady look bloated. The list could go on for hours. The important point is that people will look at every detail of a portrait photograph, so make sure you do as well.
Now we will explore a little beyond the formal setting. Portraits do not always have to be a close up head shot of somebody looking you smack dab down the middle of the camera. Portraits in many situations need to relay information or some sort of mood about the person who is being photographed. Do not be shy about bringing props into a portraiture setting. In fact try to do it if you can. If you are taking head shots for a musician, then make sure the instrument is a main subject as well.
If your camera has an advanced shooting mode with a person icon then using this mode will tell the camera that you are shooting in a portrait setting. The camera will adjust itself to have a slower shutter speed and capture more detail. It will also focus on having a shorter depth of field which is better for portrait photographs. Keep that in mind in case you are bringing in props that need to be kept in focus along with the subject.
With portraiture photography, be aware of what is behind a subject. Many times you will be working so hard to assure that the subject looks good that you won't even notice the pole in the background that now appears to be coming out of the subjects head. This is especially true if you are trying to capture somebody in a more natural environment. Imagine taking a family to the park for family portraits only to realize later that there is a man stretching in the background after a workout.
Don't always try to capture your subjects in natural environments if that is not what you need. Many times you need the additional help and support that can be gained within a studio that had false lights and backgrounds. When shooting in a studio zoom close in on your subject to fill as much of the frame as possible. Also make the focal point of the photograph the subject's eyes. Keeping the eyes in focus and having a slight blur on the rest of the body forces users to look directly at the subject's eyes and create an immediate connection.
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