Whether it is to get the perfect headshot for professional reasons, or for personal reasons like to upgrade your Facebook or Instagram profile pictures, there are many reasons for you to learn some good tricks to get the best portrait photo. If you are looking to save some money and do-it-yourself style or just for the heck of trying, here are 10 tips to help you reach that goal or help a friend.
- Choose your best angle
First of all, ‘‘what is your best angle or how can I find out?’’ you might ask. Get up close to the mirror or take a photo of yourself; check out your smile on each angle and pay attention to your chin. Actually, did you know that everyone looks pretty great with the chin slightly down and your head turned about three-quarters to the side? The rest is for you to decide or ask around.
It is really important to frame your subject, and one key way to do that is by focusing on one element of the picture and linking it to another element. For example, focus on the eyes and then the window that the subject is looking through. Or the matching color of hair and freckles. Something from the frame should stand out and catch the viewer’s attention and the closer you get to it, hence the frame, the better.
- Use the background to your advantage
The subject in the portrait photography is, of course, the main center of focus, but the background helps set that tone, frame it and even make the shot more dramatic, if that is what you hope to go for. Notice also how the same type of portrait photography in a different context, lighting or mood will drastically change the tone of the photo.
- Learn to pose
The way that you pose, stand and your facial expression can really change the overall feeling of the photo, from mediocre to great. Practice beforehand but not too much so as to keep the spontaneity of portrait photography. When you are shooting, try as much as you can do take a range of facial expressions to give the photographer what to work with, yet do it in a subtle way so that it doesn’t come across as forced or even comic.
- Play with your camera
Using wide aperture (around f/2.8-f/5.6) helps to capture a shallow depth of field. The subject is the main focus and the rest of the background is slightly blurred giving perspective and depth to the portrait photography but also drawing the viewer’s attention to the face of the model. Also, don’t forget to increase the ISO to avoid half-closed eyes or unclear movements, it is annoying and gives you less to work with. Talking about focus, the lens is also a key factor to consider. For the best portrait photography results, a wide-angle lens will make a big difference.
- Choose the best distance
After finding out what your model’s best angle is, keep in mind the distance at which you take the photos or the angle of the overall shot. For instance, a low angle will make the subject taller than it is which is great for fashion photography. For portrait photography, try tilting your camera to set nuanced tones and moods to the photo depending on what the model wishes to portray. Don’t be afraid to zoom in and excludes some of the background elements, not all needs to fit in. If you want to give the picture more depth, place your model at one side of the frame and have the other half be more out of focused to create greater sense of depth.
If you are the photographer in the situation or the one being photographed, a key element that often makes a real different in the final results is the connection the model has with the camera and mostly with the person behind the lenses. The model might be shy, uncomfortable or new at this and the awkwardness can be perceived in the portrait photography, for this reason, make sure to bond with the model or at least create a comfortable environment where he or she feels at ease and can deliver. Take the time to know the model beforehand, to give clear instructions on what you are hoping to achieve in the shoot and find out what the model hopes to achieve as well.
- It’s about good lighting
Depending on when you decide to shoot and especially if you are doing it outside, make sure you choose the perfect lighting. Natural light will give your portrait photography a whole new sense, especially when taken at dawn or dusk. If you are taking the photos indoor, then don’t be shy to play with flash lighting. Using a flashgun, or remote triggers and a good-sized diffuser gives you more possibilities and allows you to play with cool setups.
- The eyes are the key to the soul
What is portrait photography without the eyes? It doesn’t make sense. It is important to grasp the emotions in the model’s eyes, which will set the rest of the tone. Makeup, accessories, and hats are a great way to bring the focus to the eyes and also create a special tone. Black and white portrait photography also make the eyes stand out and are very popular.
- Shutter Speed Settings
First of all, what is shutter speed? It is the unit of measurement which determines how long the shutter remains open as the picture is taken. The slower the shutter speed, the longer the exposure time. It basically controls the amount of light reaching the sensor and changes the photography. Generally, we recommend that the shutter speed be higher than your focal length, for better results.