Most photographers decide sooner or later in their careers to start photographing people. You might decide to just include people in your landscape photos (just for scale). But many of you will want to start shooting portraits or improve your portrait skills. By the way, if you don't take your camera with you every day, you always have your smartphone handy. To learn how to take great photos on your phone and add interesting effects to your pictures, read an article about long exposure with iPhone on the Skylum website.
When it comes to portraits, people as the subject of your photo art are some of the most interesting, appreciative, and challenging subjects you'll ever work with. The reason is that each of us is unique: unique externally and unique internally, personally. As a portrait photographer, you can simply put anyone in front of a background, light them correctly, and shoot a portrait.
Portraits with wow effect
Spend some time looking at other photographers' work and see what kind of portraits you're attracted to. You'll usually see one of the seven attributes listed below:
- eye accentuation;
- out-of-ordinary framing;
- unusual lighting;
- using props and backgrounds that create a story;
- extraordinary colors;
- some form of movement in the frame;
- dramatic foreshortening;
- unusual costume or clothing;
- stunning makeup.
As a photographer, you will want to spend some time learning about your models. Look at their appearance, learn something about their life, look into their soul, and then you can use your photographic skills to translate that person into a photograph. And it will be a portrait with a wow effect.
The eyes can reveal a person's personality. Study your subject's eyes: work on capturing the personal, unique, distinctive, and brilliant eyes that each of us possesses.
Your subject usually expresses themselves through emotion. Learn to work with that. Take a few walk-through shots and then wait for the moment when the model expresses herself. This portrait is poignantly personal. You can feel the naughty nature of the girl and she's not even looking at the camera!
Putting your model in an unusual composition can be a very effective technique. It can be tricky. Make sure that all elements of the composition lead the viewer's eye to the model. This portrait works very well because of the repeating round (head-like) detail in the railing. The girl expresses herself through body language and emotion. But the repetitive shapes surrounding her face bring the viewer's gaze to the woman and leave her there.
Try showing personality through showing detail. Many aspiring photographers have trouble with this kind of approach. It's an invasion of each other's privacy. But if you keep practicing, you can build a rapport with your model. Proximity can be the key to outstanding portraits.
Many aspiring portrait photographers strive to shoot with rich-fill lighting. This is appropriate in certain situations, but sometimes unusual lighting creates special shots. This young man displays a very haughty expression. Picture him with soft direct lighting. He will lose the impact completely. Experiment with different types of lighting: hard light, backlight, and overhead light.
Using props and backgrounds
Using props can help tell a story about your subject. It can be a story about what he likes or what he doesn't like. Keep this in mind when working with props, don't forget that it has to interact with the subject being photographed. Don't let it overwhelm the subject. Match props to what you want to say.
Adding a dominant color or tone can increase the appeal of a shot. For example, warm toning enhances the viewer's sense of the model. In a normal tone, the shot would have lost its appeal.
Movement in the frame
Movement can be a fantastic addition to your portraits. It can be used to frame or highlight the main subject as in the example above. It would also work for a personality feature as in the picture below.
Sometimes a simple change in perspective can add expression to your portraits. For example, a portrait photographer's chosen low tabletop shooting angle, along with a high key in the surroundings, forms an almost tunnel to the model's facial expression.
Unusual costume or clothing
The choice of costume or clothing can have a huge impact on the power of your portrait. It can be your choice, your model's choice, or perhaps part of the unfolding event as in the photo above. The key to working with costumes, props, and the like is not to let them become the main focus of the shoot. If the lighting of the costume is dim, the viewer concentrates more on the model's face.
The use of makeup can create a theatrical mood. It can also be used to show off a model's personality. The use of makeup is very specific in our opinion (although it can be quite fun), so you should resort to it for expediency or inspiration!
We hope this article of ours was informative and inspired you to strive to create great portraits. Don't forget that the secret to a good portrait is also post-processing. We recommend using Luminar Neo for portrait retouching. With this super-powerful AI-based tool you can turn your photo into a beautiful masterpiece.
Luminar Neo offers many features that make it more special than any other photo editing software on the market. There are also many interesting tutorials on the developer's website. For example, you can read about long exposure with iPhone if you like taking pictures on your smartphone.