How To Take Great Portrait Photos
How To Take Great Portrait Photos
If you’re a keen amateur photographer, one of the photos you’ll find yourself taking the most is the portrait. Friends, loved ones, pets - if it’ll sit still for long enough, the chances are you’ve taken a picture of it. This guide will show you all the tips and tricks to make those photos great.
Step 1: Setting Up
There are a couple of simple guidelines to follow when setting up your shot that make a whole lot of difference. Firstly, composition. You want to frame your shot so the subject takes up most of the picture – anything else in shot is just a distraction, so frame it out. And try to use the rule of thirds to position your subject at the intersection of one of the three horizontal and vertical lines – these intersections represent the spots that your eye will be most drawn to.
Secondly, depth of field. As your subject is the most important thing in shot, and don’t want the background to distract from it, you want to keep the subject in focus and everything else out of focus. To do this you need a short depth of field, which you can achieve easily by either moving in close to the subject, using a long focal length or a lens with a large Aperture. This is where a 45-200mm Telephoto or a F1.7 20mm pancake lens would be ideal.
Finally – check everything is set up correctly on the live viewfinder before taking the shot.
Step 2: Camera Settings
Larger apertures also help create a short depth of field, perfect for that nicely out of focus background. So if you set your F stop to a larger aperture You could consider changing your ISO setting, and you will need to manually set the correct shutter speed .Something like ISO 100 is great for photos when you have plenty of light, but you could always jump up to something like ISO 400 if its a dark day or indoors. Once your aperture and ISO are set, don’t forget to change the shutter speed to correctly expose the shot. If you are not sure about what shutter speed to use, put the camera in Aperture Priority on the mode dial and then when you set the aperture, the shutter speed will be correctly set by the camera automatically.
An interesting tip here is to play with the camera's colour, brightness and saturation settings. Bleeding out the colour, or even going to full black and white, can give a really interesting, creative look to the shot.
Alternatively, if not sure or in a hurry, set the camera to it's intelligent auto mode. This will automatically sort out all those different settings for you, as well as focussing in on the face and sorting out any hand held camera shake.
Step 3: People
You can have the camera set up for the perfect shot, but it won’t do you much good unless you know how to get the most out of your subject. The most important thing here is to keep things light – a stressed out subject is going to look uncomfortable which results in a bad portrait.
There’re two ways to work with your subject, the posed shot and the natural shot. If you’re posing them - talk to them first , try and find out what parts of their body they’re insecure about – it’s a lot quicker when you both know from the off which bits the subject wants to hide! Try turning the LCD screen around to show how the shot looks and how they should pose.
If you’re trying to get a natural portrait – always remember to take your time, and take loads of shots. Not only will the extra time spent make the subject more relaxed and natural looking, but it will greatly increase your chances of getting a great picture.
And with all portrait photos, you should think about what makes the subject unique – are they grumpy? Happy? Smart? Funny? Once you’ve worked out what makes them unique, try and capture that in the shot.
Step 4: Lighting
The final thing you need to think about is lighting. The effect you’re aiming for is to have a soft, forgiving light on their face that flatters them rather than highlighting imperfections. However, remember that a perfectly flat lighting plan might look a bit boring, so keep a few shadows on the face.
Experiment with the flash and the room’s lights to get the right look, but if you’re not happy with the results, then head outside – natural light is alwa