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Portrait Photography tips for Beginners
1. Photograph the subject in their native environment
Some people just don t belong in a studio. They feel awkward and it shows in camera. So instead of forcing Grandpa into the Walmart Photo Studio, let him go to work in his workshop and photograph him doing what he loves. Instead of tears and tantrums when you try to dress up your child all pretty for studio punishment, let him
2. Never shoot kids or babies from your normal standing height
This is the view we always have of kids the tops of their heads. Get down on the ground and take images from their level.
3. Consider giving the subject space to look into
Place the subject on one side of the image and have them look into space (not the camera) towards the other side of the frame.
4. Window light
Don t have an expensive studio or want to get more natural portraits? Normal lighting in a house or during the heat of the day is not flattering on skin; however, once light passes through a window, it is very soft and diffused. Consider placing your subject next to a window so the light hits the model at an angle (not looking straight out the window). Without much effort, you ve created beautiful light which studios strain to copy.
5. NEVER use the on camera flash
On camera flash gives a deer in the headlights look to even the most beautiful subject. Because the light is perfectly in line with the lens, the light hits the subject squarely and creates a flat light that is far from flattering. If you choose to use a flash, it s truly necessary to get an external flash that can be mounted to the side of the photographer.
6. I know you want pictures of the face but you might also consider going smaller
What about photographing a child s sandy feet while he plays on the beach or your grandmother s hands, or your friend s eye. Sometimes the tiniest details speak volumes.
7. Over expose
I know I just spent two pages telling you not to do this, but over exposing (making the image too bright) is a common and beautiful technique for giving a portrait a clean and simple look.
8. Do something totally off the wall
Want cool pictures of your friend in her prom dress? Throw her in the pool with the prom dress on. Want cute pics of a baby? Put them in a huge basket like Anne Geddes or dress them in clothes that are 5 sizes too big.
9. Stop the waving and smiling
When shooting family pictures, nothing can ruin the moment more than saying, Hey Dan, look at the camera! Your picture will be destroyed. I m not saying you have to shoot candid photography all the time, but when you are going to have the subject know you re taking the picture, at least pose the subject properly rather than having them just stand off squarely at the camera.
10. Shoot up to give power Shoot down to take power away
In tip #2, I mentioned that it generally isn t good to shoot down on babies and kids. The reason is that kids are already small, so shooting down on them is so common that the photo does not look as it should. Similarly, you can make a subject seem more powerful by shooting from a lower angle up to the subject. For example, it would be ridiculous to shoot Michael Jordan from above. Since you want to make a sports star look powerful, it would make much more sense to shoot that subject from a lower angle.
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