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10 Great Portrait Photography Tips

 Are you looking for portrait ideas? Sometimes you can over-think these things. For example, when you put a lot of thought into backdrops and color schemes, you will often overlook some of the important aspects of portrait photography, such as the subject's pose.


Many photographers have upgraded to a decent DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera to give them a lot more control when taking family portraits or pictures of friends because getting great shots of people is always a challenge. The difference between amateur and professional portraits can be huge, so here is a list of 10 great portrait photography tips that'll make you shoot like a pro.

1. "Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken." Oscar Wilde
Ditch the clichés such as "make love to my camera" as they just sound really creepy. Use a language that you are totally comfortable with. For example, if you're softly spoken then this is how you should give your directions. Trying to be someone you're not will just make things awkward for you and your model.

2. Try to Be Interested Rather than Interesting
A great photographer knows how to speak to their models and make them feel confident, comfortable, and relaxed. A person's name is the sweetest sound to their ears, so it's important to remember it and use it as often as possible. Most people like to talk about themselves, so ask questions, be interested, and really listen to their answers.

3. Check Your Mood

Have you ever been served by a waiter that was in a bad mood? How did that waiter's attitude make you feel? Your mood on the day of the shoot is going to have a massive influence on the people around you. If you want the people in your photograph to look and feel relaxed then you should make sure that you look and feel relaxed too.

4. When to Use Exposure Compensation
Your camera's metering system plays a very important role when it comes down to picture taking. It works out how much light is needed to make a correct exposure. It's extremely clever, but it isn't entirely foolproof. The problem with metering is that it takes an average reading - either of the entire frame or part of it, depending on which metering mode you are in - and this is assumed to be midtone, or to put it simply, halfway between black and white.

On most occasions, this assumption is right, but a metering system can struggle when a frame is dominated by areas of extreme darkness or brightness. When shooting portraits, light skin tones can trick the camera into underexposing the shot. You will notice this when shooting full-face photos or when there is a lot of white in the scene - the bride at a wedding is a prime example.

However, this can be quickly corrected though with your camera's Exposure Compensation controls. To begin with, try dialing in up to +1 stop of positive Exposure Compensation to lighten up people's faces. Review your shots, and if you think that they need to be lightened further, increase this again.


5. Aperture Advice
When shooting a portrait of someone, it's best to set a wide aperture (around f/2.8-f/5.6) to capture a shallow depth of field, so the background behind your subject is nicely blurred, making your subject stand out better.

Shoot in Aperture Priority mode to control depth of field; in this mode, your DSLP will automatically set the shutter speed for correct exposure.

Special portrait lenses tend to have even wider maximum apertures (from f/1.4 to f/2.8) in order to blur backgrounds further.

6. Creative Compositions 

Don't be lazy when it comes down to your compositions. More often than not, photographers stand back thinking that it is best to include all, or at least half, of their subject.

Zoom in instead to fill the frame for a more inspired photo composition. Positioning your subject at one side of the frame is a great habit to master, as is experimenting with wide apertures to capture very shallow depth of field.

7. Increase Your ISO
People naturally fidget when they're being photographed, not to mention blink and constantly change their facial expressions - and there's nothing more infuriating than a photo with someone half-blinking instead of smiling.

To avoid these problems, and to prevent motion blur appearing, you'll need to use a fast shutter speed. This will ensure sharp shots and avoid camera-shake because more often than not you'll be shooting portraits handheld.

While in Aperture Priority mode and maintaining a wide aperture, to increase your shutter speed simply increase your ISO from ISO100 to something like ISO400.

In low light, you may need to increase it to around ISO1, 600, 3,200, or even 6,400. A little grain is a lot better than a blurry photo.

8. Posing for Portraits
How your subject stands, poses, and looks will have a dramatic effect on your photographs. A slight change in facial expression - such as whether they're smiling or not - can radically change the entire feel of the photograph.

When taking photos, try to capture a range of expressions so that you can choose which ones you prefer when looking at them back at home on the computer.

9. It's All About the Eyes
The eyes are the "windows to the soul," and this is especially true when it comes down to portrait photography. When taking photos of people, you will almost always want to emphasize their eyes. You could have perfect composition and exposure, but if the eyes are not sharp, the entire image will take a hit.

10. Using Fill Flash on Sunny Days
Although it may seem strange to use flash when the sun is out, that is precisely when you should be using it. The sun can cause a whole range of problems for portrait photographers: harsh shadows across faces, unbalanced exposures, and burnt-out highlights.

Use a bit of "fill flash" and you will instantly improve your portraits; your camera will capture a much more balanced exposure because your flash will light up your subject while the camera exposes for the background.

Source: 99inspiration

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