A Complete Guide to Portrait Photography

Portraits are one of the greatest forms of storytelling. It is the art of capturing the inherent character of your subject within one photograph. While this puzzling definition may cover the basics, portrait photography goes far beyond just clicking photographs of people. They tell stories of not just the people being photographed, but also of time, experience, culture and place.

Whether you’re arranging a proper professional shoot for headshots or a casual photography session with your relatives or friends, there are a few basics portrait photography tips and techniques that can help guarantee a positive experience and not to mention a successful outcome.

Focus on the subject

One of the most important aspects of photography is the subject. So, making the subject comfortable with and around you is quite an essential factor for a successful portrait photography session. To make things a little light and comfortable, you can take some time out to connect with your client before the photo shoot, or even better, meet up in person to discuss the needful. It always helps to get to know each other and let the subject know more about your style of photography and what exactly you will look for in the shoot.

Find the right location

The second most significant aspect here is to choose the perfect location for the portrait shoot. Shooting outdoors with your digital SLR camera in natural light can deliver the most desired results. However, it is also important to plan according to the weather, timings and changing light along with the environmental conditions as the day progresses. Shooting in direct sunlight may produce harsh shadows and can make your subject squint and hence, it must be avoided. Early mornings or late afternoon when the sunlight gets diffused, giving your subject a lovely, warm natural glow is probably something you might look for.

However, you can have a lot more control if you shoot indoors. Although, when choosing to shoot indoors, you may need to plan your lighting arrangements properly to complement the mood of the shoot, backdrops and well as the model’s clothes.

Capture emotions and expressions

Portrait photography is all about looking for emotions and expressions in portrait pictures. In fact, getting your subject to emote is easier said than done. It is advisable to ask your models to avoid giving fake smiles and blank looks. A faint smile coupled with a confident expression and a genuine sparkle in the eye are the recipes for creating portrait shots that will outshine your efforts. It is also important to be patient and work with the subject to get that perfect shot.

Learn how to use your camera

Although tricky, nothing is impossible with a little  practice. Once you understand the nuances of portrait photography, it is time to invest in a good camera to take your DSLR Camera photography to the next level. If you have been into portrait photography for a long time and know your way around cameras, the Canon 5D Mark IV is a highly regarded full-frame camera and is considered by some to be the best camera for portraits.

It not only gives you utmost control over portrait photography settings but also allows you to deliver sharp, high-resolution images in the RAW format that you can easily work on in post-processing. Keeping everything aside, it is important that you experiment with camera settings to understand your tools to better use them and capture the best shots!

First practices by great artists such as Picasso, portrait paintings have an exceptionally hard-hitting history of storytelling. In fact, taking portrait photographs is actually the modern form of the same technique. While it may require lesser efforts than painting, it is always important to remember that capturing emotions and expressions may take quite a lot of time to master.

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