Taking Portraits

  1. The Subject
    • Relax the subject.
      • Find out about them.
      • Make them like you.
    • Try to draw out different expressions: thoughtful, happy, sad, joyous, etc.
    • Make sure your subject dominates the picture.
    • Take the portrait somewhere where the subject feels relaxed and somewhere that reflects the personality of the subject.
      • Or give them somewhere that will shake them up a bit and make them energized.
    • Give the subject something to do (hold a ball, read a book, climb a tree).
    • Be aware of where the subject is looking. Do you want her looking at the camera, or away in the distance, or at something or someone in the frame?
  2. Composition
    • If it's a close up of the face, eyes are normally in the top third of the picture
    • Make sure your location is well lit, preferably with natural light.
      • Indoor locations close to windows (or skylights) can give you an outdoor feel with the warmth of indoors.
      • When relying on natural light, be aware of the position of the sun.
    • Be aware of shadows, and use a flash or natural light to compensate.
      • Unless you don't want to.
    • Don't get in too close to the subject. This may make his nose seem larger like a puppy or a gorilla.
    • Use as low an ISO as possible so you'll have the best possible photo for enlargements.
    • Put your camera at the same height as the subject.
      • Unless you don't want to.
    • Shoot with a wide angle lens, or zoomed in tightly for the distortion it can create.
  3. Background
    • Pay attention to your background. Make sure there are no random elements to distract attention from your subject.
    • Think about blurring the background (changing your apeture) to keep the focus on the subject.
    • The background can be used to frame your subject.
    • Change your angle to eliminate background distractions.