Portrait Photography Techniques:
Portrait photography is all about people. How to shoot them at their best is a challenge. Either for client portfolio shots or arranging a dozen of a family member for a group image.
From choosing the right gear and finding the perfect location. To posing the model and adjusting the model and adjusting your composition. Even after mastering light there is the polishing stage in Photoshop.
Some Important Techniques:
Your choice has a big impact on your portrait photography techniques. A lot of professional photographers prefer using longer focal length lenses like 85mm, 135mm or 200. Some photographers out there say that 50mm is a must-have portrait lens, but with lens you won’t be able to create a beautiful image compression as you can produce with 85mm or 200mm.
Image compression is something that will not only flatter your subject with less feature distortion but shooting at longer focal length also creates a more dramatic and blur background. Shooting at 200mm may create communication problems with your subject but the difference/final-result will be apparently worth it.
Composition and Framing
Most of the new photographers miss out the most important factor(composition) of portrait photography techniques, rather than focusing on composition and framing they jump into secondary things like tones of image(Editing) and buying expensive gears etc, and think that might be the solution to get better in portrait photography techniques.
In the real world, you will be working with a wide range of subject and locations, and to engage the scenes may require a much more open-minded approach. What composition and framing work for one photo won’t necessarily work for another.
Poor image composition can make a fantastic subject look pretty dull, but a well-framed composition can create a wonderful image from ordinary situations. Try out different compositions during the shoot and later choose the best image you get.
Shoot at below or above eye level
Shooting at below or above the eye level is a great portrait photography techniques for fooling the eye and changing the perspective of objects and people. Challenge yourself to find a different angle rather than shooting at eye level to bring a new perspective to the image.
To shoot at different angles try out using wide-angle lenses like 24mm, 35mm or more wider than that according to your own choice/taste. This might may produce some distortion but the result will be more dramatic.
Build a rapport with the model
Rather than just start shooting, talk to the model and try to build a rapport with the model which will result in better photographs. Photographing models is different than landscapes, street or even wedding photography.
It doesn’t matter if you are shooting for the client, shooting to build your portfolio or model portfolio, having a game plan before you get to the location is essential. Obviously each time the scene will be different, but prior to shooting, you should have a rough idea of the goals for the day.
When the shoot begins, offer directions to the model rather than working just silently. tell them what you want and how you want them to pose.
Use off-camera Flash
When a flash is fired straight from the camera it rarely flatters a person’s face and the image loses its dimensionality. While, using off-camera we are able to create both light and shadow on your subjects, flattering their features and bringing a greater range of highlights and shadows to the image.
Using off-camera flash provides us with more control of lighting, add creativity with your lighting, lighting looks more natural, red-eye reduction in portraits, and flexibility to the way you want to angle and turn it.
Overpower the sun with flash
Shooting at day time with natural light is not an easy task. But with artificial lights, you can overpower the natural light and can produce some dramatic images. We use this technique especially when the background is dull. As we are trying to create environmental portraits that focus on the background too.
Using Speed-lights, we are able to overpower the sun easily and underexpose the sky while only lighting up the subject. To create this amount of artificial light, we need 2 or 4 speed-lights in order to generate enough light. But you don’t need to worry, you can also use one Speedlight without a diffuser and place it close to the subject. Below image is taken using a single Speedlight.
Posing and Expressions
How your object stands, poses and looks have a dramatic effect on your results. While shooting, try a range of poses and expression and pick the best when getting back to the computer.
In full body shoot, we try to fix and poses and gesture of model and don’t care about expressions that much. While taking close shots of a model, a slight change in expression can ruin the whole theme and effect of the photograph.
Shoot through objects
When there is any object in our way, we like to use them to our advantage. In fact, most of the time we are purposely trying to find elements like tree branches, abstract object, prism, or even ordinary household items to place in the foreground of our image, that will help enhance your images by bringing an interesting, and sometimes colourful elements to your composition. Using long focal length lenses will help you blur our the objects in the foreground to frame your subject in a more intimate way.
Editing is the last stage where you polish your existing portraits, and as important as the photoshoot. No matter how perfect portrait photographs are taken by you, it still requires some editing.
The purpose of Photo editing is mostly making the raw image looks more beautiful. Photo editing allows you to retouch, colour correction, image masking, shadow and highlight correction, and a lot more.
Best mobile application for photo editing in Lightroom and Snapseed, while for PC you won’t get an any better option than Photoshop.