One of the most fascinating topics among photographers is whether or not a particular photographer, regardless of speciality or forte, can really take that one perfect portrait photo. Never mind if the photo subject is the President of the United States of America or some ordinary Joe you see of the block. To really know if the photographer has the necessary skills to do well in his or her chosen industry, he or she must excel in taking wonderful portrait photos.
Truth be told, there’s hardly any science behind taking perfect portraits. However, there sure are certain guidelines and helpful tips that can assist portrait photographers – whether still starting out or hardcore veterans.
Check the following tips below on how to take that perfect portrait:
1. Establish a nice working relationship with your subject. It’s another way of saying that you need to make your subject feel at ease. Try to strike a conversation before the photo shoot proper. This way, your model will feel comfortable and will most likely give the best smile possible.
2. Deviate from your standard photo routine. This means that if you’re doing a “standard” way in taking portrait photos, then this time, you need to follow a new one. Why not take a stool, stand on it and take the photo of your subject while you’re above him or her, perched on the stool? That will be extraordinary and for sure your subject will appreciate you for being creative.
3. Establish eye contact. You can either ask your subject to look straight into the camera lens or ask your subject to still look at the camera lens but that the range of the “look” or “stare” tries to depict something “unseen” or “further away.
4. The rule of thirds never fails to impress. Whether we like it or not, when it comes to portrait photography, you must also exert extra effort in making the portrait photo look a little less “standard.” By standard we mean that the subject sits somewhere and you take the photo a few feet away and that the framing is dead centre. Gone are those days. These days, portrait photographers are all about the rule of thirds. Compose the photo in such a way that it will definitely attract attention and can also create a “story.”
5. Why not ask your subject to step out of their comfort zone and try something new? For instance, why limit your portrait sessions inside a photography studio? Why not go out, look for a park and do the portrait photography sessions under a tree or even in the middle of the lawn? This idea might sound a little too unique or even risqué for some but it does not sound entirely bad, does it?
6. If you want to capture candid photos, why not tell your subject that there will be times during your photo sessions that you will take photos out of the blue. Or you can also ask your photographer’s assistant to perhaps take behind-the-scenes shots. This way, the photos would look real, candid and definitely not contrived. Not forced at all. Sometimes, posed or planned shots can look somehow too standard for many so don’t hesitate to break out of that mould and do something fairly new.
7. Use props and be creative while you use them! Now don’t worry if you use several props at a time. True, this might take away some focus from your main subject but then again, if you use props, the portrait photo will become more appealing because the photo will be taken as an “entire” photo and not just because of one singular subject. Props can enhance and enliven the photos so take time out and use some. Let your subject hold a colourful lollipop, wear a fake beard or use a 1920’s inspired bag. Props like these will truly help create a story for your photo.
8. Why not put focus on one body part? By this we mean that you take a lens – perhaps a .50mm lens and get straight right in to one of your subject’s body part. For instance, zoom in on your subject’s eyes. Or perhaps her mouth or even her hands. By focusing on certain body parts, you also let the viewer of your photo use his or her imagination.
So what do you think? Is it difficult to do portrait photography? We think not. Because at the end of the day, to take that perfect portrait will really just require you to do one simple thing – and that is to do it.