Dec 21, 2018

Portrait photography involves emotions. The variety of human emotions is enormous and hence there are several types of portraitures. A portrait may not be describing the entire life of a person but it can depict the current condition of the person. The visible emotions in your portraiture will determine the beauty of your shot. A portrait may be a story telling one, an emotional one or even a fashionista! There are certain guidelines to shooting portraits. They are obviously not rules that are mandatory to follow but they can help you achieve better images. Once you are clear with the basics, it is time for you to actually experiment and get creative. Let us take a look at how you can use your creativity to a great extent in your portrait shots.


          Image courtesy Feather Of Me

  1. The eye level shot: You have surely been advised to shoot from an elevation that matches the eye level of the subject. This simple tip can improve your images straightaway. Once you get to understand the advantages of doing this, you should look forward to tweak this to better effect. Use various elevations and angles to shoot portraits depending upon the facial features of your model. For example, you can shoot the model looking out of a window from a very high position. This will introduce a dominated feeling to your image and will raise the empathy of your viewers, for the model as if he/she is waiting patiently for someone for a long period of time. Thus this simple use of elevation can actually bring in a story to your image. Story telling portraits are always much more attractive than a normal one. They tend to grab the attention of the viewers and keep them glued on.

  2. Flash and overexposure: An overexposed image is often considered as trash. However, this is not always so. An overexposed image can brighten out several unwanted things. Hence an over-exposed portrait can be quite attractive, if shot properly. This can bring about a polished look in the image. Pay attention to the background and make sure the background is equally exposed too. We often use flash for our portraits. It is always better to use whatever natural light we have but sometimes they don’t suffice. When you are using the flash, make sure not to fire the flash straight at the face. You don’t want your model to look like a deer in headlight. Firing the flash at different angles can help you achieve different lighting techniques. These angles actually bring about different moods to the images. Each lighting technique has its own significance. For example, you want your model to look suspicious, dramatic and yet confident. You can use a strong side lighting to depict this. Fire the flash from any side of your subject’s face. You can also bounce your flash with the help of a reflector. The bright flash will illuminate one side of the face completely. Use a very dim fill light to counter this strong flash from the opposite side. This will eliminate the very hard and awkward shadows. The fill light being extremely dim in comparison to the main light, cannot illuminate the face to the same extent and hence you are able to illuminate only half of the face of your model.

  3. Extraordinary angles: Angles can change moods in portraits. For example, if you are shooting someone from an elevation, you make them look dominated to introduce some sort of empathy. On the contrary, shooting someone from a very low angle can make them look powerful and dominating. The elongated stature of the model actually plays this trick! Photography is all about depicting stories and emotions in just a single frame. Proper use of angles actually comes a long way to serve this purpose.

  4. Candid shots: Portraits can be both traditional and candid. While you will always need to shoot in the traditional style in various events, work on your candid shots too. Candid is anything that is not quite planned. Candid shots can depict wonderful expressions and hence can look extremely attractive. Since the subject is not posing in this case, the images look very natural.

  5. Composition and background: It is never advisable to place the subject in the centre of the frame. To improve the composition of the entire image, place the subject using the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds actually divides the frame using 2 horizontal and 2 vertical lines. Place the subject’s face in either of the intersecting points to improve the aesthetics of your photograph. This is not the end to the rules of composition. You need to have a complimentary background to make your image pop out. For example, you may have shot an awesome portrait using the rule of thirds, but there is an unwanted object peeping out nearby the subject’s face. This can look very amateurish. The background of your image needs to be clean and must compliment the subject.

  6. Colours: Colours mean attraction! They demand attention with all the vibrancy around it. Use colours to creatively uplift the quality of your images. You can use several colourful lights in the background of a portrait shot to get the perfect bokeh effect! All the lights in the background will be out of focus and hence appear as large colourful dots in the image. These look quite gorgeous when used effectively in portraits.

  7. Basics of photography: Having discussed various ways to creatively shoot portraits, the basics of photography should not be given a miss. You should have a strong hold on the very basics of photography like the exposure triangle parameters, metering modes etc. Once the basics are in place, creativity can take the fore front. You need to know your equipment in and out. This will ensure that you don’t miss all the crucial shots especially when you are shooting candid.


Image courtesy boingboing.net


Portrait photography can be done with a great deal of creativity. The use of colours, angles and unorthodox compositions can combine together to form a potent force! Use these effectively as per your convenience and concept to amaze your audience!