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Quick Tip: Simple Portrait Photography Tricks

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This post is part of a series called Portraits.
10 Ways to Shoot Stunning Portraits With Only One Light
Taking Amazing Studio Portraits On a Tight Budget

Portrait photography is one of the most interesting types of photography. What makes it even more rewarding is the fact that you are making someone else beautiful through your camera. Interestingly, there are several things that one should keep in mind in order to get that "Wow" effect in the final portraits. Let's take a look at a few Quick Tips!

Republished Tutorial

Every few weeks, we revisit some of our reader's favorite posts from throughout the history of the site. This tutorial was first published in July of 2010.


Choose the Right Subject

Simple Portrait Photography Tips and Tricks

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Your subject is the heart and soul of a portrait composition - the right face will determine the success of your shoot. That's why you should spend much of your time and effort finding the most suitable subject for your assignment.


Define a Character

Simple Portrait Photography Tips and Tricks

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Choosing a subject alone is not enough. In portrait photography, every subject has their own individual character. A female portrait with gentle and soft skin defines a character which is very different from a wrinkled, older gentleman. Both are great subjects for portrait photography, but you have to select the best according to the composition you are have in mind.


Try Different Angles and Poses

Simple Portrait Photography Tips and Tricks

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To add flavour, spice and freshness to your portrait photography, never fear to experiment with position. After you have finalized the model, experiment with different poses, angles and postures of the face and body. This will ensure that you not only end up with great portrait shots, but also very interesting ones. A natural pose is great, but you can also have fun directing unusual an unusual pose or stance.


Lights are Everything

The fate of your final photograph is largely determined by the lighting conditions. For example, if you have a very bright background, it may overpower your subject and result in a completely washed out photograph.

When you set up your portrait shoot, remember the following key points:

  • Don't use direct flash as it may ruin the photograph and leave you with an overexposed subject
  • Use your photographic sense to make the best use of shadows

Having an Appropriate Background

Background can be sometimes as important as the subject itself. You could go for a beautiful bokeh blur effect, or a very high/low key approach with a black or white background. Either way, be sure to consider background in your mental checklist before pressing the shutter.

A great tip is to open your Aperture as wide as possible, to create a shallow depth of field and make your subject "pop" out of the background.

Looking for more information? Check out our article on 9 Tips for a Perfect Portrait Background.


Natural vs. Artificial Expression

Simple Portrait Photography Tips and Tricks

Photo credits

There has always been a debate about natural and artificial expressions of the subject. The most difficult task for a photographer is to make a portrait shot as natural as possible.

To attain this, make sure your subject is comfortable and ready for the shoot. Don't jump into shooting right away. Spend some time chatting and getting to know one another!


Share Your Tips

Do you have any more suggestions and tips for portrait photography? We'd love to hear them - feel free to share in the comments!

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