Portrait photography can be a true challenge for even experienced photographers; it requires you to connect with your client in ways that aren’t applicable for more scenic subjects. It can be an intimidating prospect, but breaking down the basic elements of portraiture can help with your process.
Here are five key elements to producing a good personal portrait:
- Relate to your subject and convey their character
Remember that being in front of the camera can oftentimes be more nerve-wracking than being behind it. Having one’s photo taken can call for immense levels of vulnerability and trust, so it’s important to make your client feel totally at ease and confident in your skills and direction. Being able to make a personal connection with your subject is vital; not only will it help your client feel more comfortable and relaxed, but it will also allow you to get a glimpse into his or her personality and the character traits you’d both like to convey in the finished portrait.
- Composition and style
You have a distinctive personal style when it comes to your photography, and that’s likely to be one of the main reasons you were hired for any given event or session. Composition is crucial in creating an interesting image and can have a huge impact on how the image and subject are received by the viewer. Using the rule of thirds creates interest and puts the subject in focus; if you’re not pleased with the composition, the use of photo cropping in post-production can work wonders.
Whether your photo session is indoors or outdoors, good lighting is a must. For photographers, adjusting the aperture is important, especially for portraiture. The f-number varies from about f/8.3 in brightly lit environments to around f/2.31 in dark ones; typically, a portrait photographer will use a lower f-number, which should produce a slightly blurred background and keep the subject in focus. Whether you opt to use a natural or artificial light source comes down to personal preference, and the type of lighting will help set the mood or tone of the photo.
Your choice of lens has a great impact on the photos you take; your go-to lens for nature photography will differ from the one you choose for portraiture. For example, you wouldn’t use the Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* (which weighs 564 pounds) for personal portraits, as it was designed with wildlife photography in mind. Instead, you might want to use a moderate telephoto lens, so as not to distort your subject’s features or flatten them out. Your choice of camera matters, too; you don’t have to spend a fortune on your camera equipment, and Nikon and Canon DSLRs are among the most recommended and work for a variety of other situations. They will also help in your photography post production, whether you need some color correction services or specialize in wedding photo editing.
For professional headshots, a client may want you to edit blemishes or stray hairs; for wedding photo editing, your subject may request that you remove the background or make more complex edits in the interest of producing the perfect image from a magical day. Combining photo retouching services with your skills as a photographer means that your clients will obtain your best work; the images will capture the best version of the subject, and both photographer and client will be totally happy with the results.
Whether you’re taking actor headshots, specializing in event photography, wedding photo editing, or you’re an amateur taking portraits of your friends, these five elements of good portraiture can help put you at ease and take the guesswork out of your next session.