Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Photo Tips - Portraits

There are few things that get my heart beating faster (and not in a good way) than portraits.  I start sweating and I swear I gain 10 pounds when someone brings their camera out.  I know I'm not the only one.  So, here are some tips for both sides of the camera.

1.  The eyes have it.  The consensus seems to be that the focus needs to be on the eyes.  Make sure they are sharp and crisp to add full life to your photos (especially if they're chocolate brown dreamy eyes like these ones).

2. No nose please.  Don't shoot up the nose.  Nobody wants to see that, ever.  Enough said.


3.  Cloudy.  If you can shoot portraits outdoors on an overcast day, you'll get the best lighting to flatter faces.  Bright sun causes harsh shadows (have your models turn around with sun behind them if you have to shoot in bright sunshine) and too dark causes a lack of contrast.

4. Colour.  Choose wardrobe and even background colours carefully to complement the models.  Avoid red, black and white.  These colours are all more difficult to photograph properly than other hues.

5.  No amputations.  Be careful not to crop your models at their joints.  No knees, no elbows, no wrists.  Avoid chopping off fingers or other body parts as well.

Excuse me ma'am,..but where is your head?

6.  Angling.  There is a reason why that school photographer had us all angle towards the camera and it wasn't just to fit us all in.  Angling your body makes you look slimmer and more interesting than a full-front shot.  Even better is to angle your body away from the camera and then turn your face toward the camera, halfway like Sandra below.

7.  Posture.  A straight back and long neck will do wonders to make you look thin and strong.  Avoid shrugging your shoulders up or slouching your chin straight down which can cause the dreaded double chin.  Instead stick your chin out and then down slightly, and keep your head straight or tilted down a bit.

8.  Sleeves.  Avoid sleeveless tops.  Wear even a modest sleeve and avoid crushing your arms against your body.  Obviously, try to look natural but be aware that if your arms are held away from your body a bit, they won't get smushed into looking thicker.

9.  Focus.  If you have a group of people in the photograph, make sure to focus on the closest person or people to ensure that everyone ends up sharp and crisp in the final photo.

10.  Relax.  No matter which side of the camera you happen to be on, relax.  Remove the tension from your face and hands and try to enjoy yourself.  The photos will definitely show better if you're free of stress.

Be sure to check back next Tuesday to see a bunch of portrait pose ideas that you can use to take better family or individual photos.

My 3 Boybarians
Digital Photography School
Mostly Lisa
Improve Photography


Adrianne Surian said...

I love the tips about the arms - both not cutting them off and not smushing them. I would never have thought of these but it's a really great suggestion. (Well, they're all great, but those are the ones that surprised me a little).

I love that I always get to learn something when I drop by on photo tip day!!

Carol-Anne said...

I'm getting a lot out of these tips and hope to be a decent photog soon! Is that your son? Is the blonde your daughter?

Unknown said...

I had never heard of the smushed arms either. That is a great tip!! I struggle with portraits. It is about time to take photo's of the kiddos again. Hopefully I can get at least one that is good enough to hang on the wall. I am looking forward to the pose ideas. Our last family photo was just sad!

Macey said...

Oh yeah, I amputate my kids all the time. LOL

Unknown said...

Thanks for the tips! Portraits are so intimidating!

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