Archive for the ‘Portrait Photography’ Category

People often ask the staff at Berger Brothers Camera what the key is to taking great portraits. Is it having the best portrait photography lens, or a specific type of camera? The lighting? A professionally-equipped studio? Read on for some tips that will help you take better portrait shots…

  1. One of the most valuable things you can do is get to know your subject. The more you know about them, the easier you will find it to capture their most natural expressions. If possible, try shooting their portrait in their favorite environment– if it’s an outdoorsy person, do it outdoors. If they love books, set up in the library or in front of some bookshelves. It’s not essential to get much of the background visible (or even in focus, necessarily) when taking portraits, but including a little bit of background gives a personal touch that the subject will appreciate.
  2. Another tip: Use a good zoom lens, or at least a point & shoot camera with a decent zoom. This will enable you to get several feet back from your subject, and zoom in on their head and shoulders, which should blur the background somewhat, putting all of the attention and focus on the subject.
  3. If you’re shooting a portrait in natural light, the best light is about an hour before sunset, when the light is softer. Or, try shooting just after a rainstorm, when the light is diffused by the moisture in the air. This way, there will be fewer (and softer) cast shadows. However, if you can’t choose the weather or the time of day, and you don’t have a studio with professional lighting, you’ll have to improvise. A bright lamp, or a window letting in light can do just fine, but it’s crucial to keep in mind that shooting with the light coming from the side is preferable to light coming from the front.
  4. Have your subject “act naturally.” Forced poses usually don’t result in pleasing portraits. Never prop a person up against a wall to take their portrait, as you’ll tend to get a hard shadow behind them. Let them sit in a chair, perch on a counter or table, or lean against a mantle. Try to photograph them from slightly above their eye level, or from a side angle. Straight-on portraits can look awkward and unnatural.

Taking great portraits

Want to know more? Check out the full-length article on portrait photography, and get more tips on how to compose, light, and shoot, and process great-looking portraits.

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