How to Take Better Portraits…Without a Camera
by Cody Johnson | Feb 15, 2013 | How Tos
You can understand everything there is to know about your camera and how to use it for the best digital photography. You could know all the "ins and outs" of the right lenses. You could have the perfect portrait lighting. Yet, somehow, your portraits could be lacking something. Where did you go wrong? It may have nothing to do with your digital photography. After all, a great deal to do with the quality of your portraits has nothing to do with the camera. Below, you will find some helpful tips on how to take better portraits without even touching your camera. Use these tips and you are sure to see a big difference in your photo sessions.
Keep the Subject Relaxed
When you are photographing people, one of the biggest problems can be keeping them looking relaxed and natural. Most people are at least a little uncomfortable with the idea of getting their photos taken. They may even be wearing uncomfortable clothes. As the photographer, it is up to you to ensure that your subjects are relaxed. At ease subjects will take more natural images. Here are some tips on keeping people relaxed.
- Joke around with them.
- Play their favorite type of music.
- Talk to them before you begin the session.
- Act at ease. They will be more at ease if you are.
- Be enthusiastic. Enthusiasm is contagious and you can make your subjects more enthusiastic about their photo shoot.
Meet the Subjects before the Photo Shoot
This is quite possibly the best way to set expectations and prepare your subject for their photo session. When you meet the people you will be photographing the day that you photograph them, you will have no idea of their personality and their own favorite type of photography. You may take pictures that they just do not like. The best thing you could do would be to set up a short meeting before the photo shoot just so that you can get a better idea of their personality. This meeting can still take place the day of the photo session. Just work the time into your sitting. It could be as short as a 15 minute "getting to know you" chat. These meetings can go a long way in settling the nerves of your subject and will translate into better portraits.
If you will be photographing on location, do not wait until the photo shoot to go to the site. Instead, go there ahead of time and create a plan of which locations you are going to hit. This will give you the opportunity to choose the perfect photography locations without having your subjects wander around with you. Plus it makes you look more professional in the eyes of your subject. They know they are in capable hands.
Always be Aware of Light
Lighting plays such an important role in digital photography that you must always be aware of it and what it is doing before you take a picture. Pay attention to the light at different times during the day. The light may be beautiful where you plan to shoot at one point in the day, but it may be harsh and cast ugly shadows in another part of the day. Be prepared as the light changes during your shoot. Have a backup plan.
Look for Details
Small details are very important and they can make or break a photo. If you are not careful, you may not notice that stray hair across someone’s face or you may not notice that tree branch cutting off the top of someone’s head. Do a double check of your subjects wardrobe too. Make sure everything is fitting and where it is supposed to be before you start shooting. It can be nice to have an assistant looking at hair and makeup while you are paying attention to wardrobe and background.
Have Fun with Props
Many people mistakenly think props are silly or cheap looking. However, this is not the case. When you have fun with props, you can get very creative with the pictures, and your subjects will loosen up and have fun. A prop gives your subject something to interact with which takes their mind off the fact they are being photographed. The key is to use the props in limited number. Try not to load down one image with too many props or your photograph will get a little too busy.
A great deal of the quality in your photos has less to do with the camera and more to do with what you do without the camera. With these simple tips, you can improve your portrait digital photography.
Photo Credit: Eric Von Lehmden