How to stand out as a portrait photographer
Pixean
October 1, 2018

With the emergence of new photographers every single day, photography has become a highly competitive field. The quality of photographs is rising all the time and you need to be at your best all the while. Portrait photography is no exception. With the massive rise in demand of portrait photography, wedding photography etc. the quality of portraitures has kept on surpassing the previous highs. So how do you actually stand out when the scenario is such? How do you actually get out there and prove that you are right up there with the best? Let us take a look at a few ways by which you can improve your portrait photography game and stand out from the rest.

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1) The height:

You are going to grow as a portrait photographer if you can bring the best looks out of your model. For this, you need to know what the right height to shoot is. The preferred angle is the eye level one. It is always the safe bet. But to stand out of the crowd, playing safe is not enough. Experiment with different angles of shoot. Try to shoot from an angle that is either above or below the eye level to bring in different emotions. For example, when you shoot someone from above, it lends a sort of a dominated feel to the image. On the contrary, shooting from a low angle elevates the stature of the model making him/her look dominating. Different angles can create different stories. Experiment with angles to create several story telling portraits since such portraits are always superior to the normal ones.

2) Exposure:

It is a given that you need to be thorough with the exposure triangle parameters in your camera. Here, we are not going to talk about the perfect exposure settings. In fact, we are just going to do the opposite. Experiment with overexposed settings to create something unique. Overexposed portraits actually flashes out all the imperfections present in the model’s face. Pimples, pores etc. are all removed when you are shooting high key portraits. High key portraits can be easily shot once you get comfortable with the concept of metering and exposure compensation.

3) Candid shots:

The term candid has become increasingly popular these days, to the extent that there are separate photographers for candid photography and traditional photography. Candid photography brings in a lot of life to the images. Try to catch the subject unaware. The feelings in such images are actually quite real and lively. Candid shots always tend to grab the attention more than the posed shots.

4) The use of props:

If you are not finding things interesting enough, you always have the option of using props. Props can add an entirely different dimension to the portrait. Find interesting and colourful props to introduce variety into your images. When it comes to standing out of the crowd, all such intricacies will matter.

5) Wide angle portraits:

When people talk of portrait images and the camera gear required for the same, they talk of prime lenses and top of the range zoom lenses. The reason for the same is the beautiful background blur they create. Since this bokeh effect has become so common, let’s try and do something different. Shoot with a wide angle lens instead. A wide angle lens distorts the subject that is close to it. The bigger depth of field actually helps you in getting the background in focus. If you place your subject in front of a beautiful background, use a wide angle lens to capture all the details. This will actually separate your portrait from the clichéd ones. Experiment with slow shutter speeds and neutral density filters to get the motion blur effect. Ask your model to pose and stay still while you shoot at very slow shutter speeds. The stillness of your model in combination with the motion blur of the background will lend a wonderful contrast and conflict to the image. Such kinds of creative portraits are actually the demand of the generation.

6) Colour and composition:

This is perhaps the most important feature of portraitures. Always try to shoot story telling portraits. Look out for conflicts and try to highlight them. Story telling images can be created by choosing the right colours and having the perfect composition. Use colours to depict the mood of the photograph. Warm colours can be used to depict some happy moments while cool colours can be used to create the loneliness sort of feelings. These are not rules however and can be modified according to your wants. Composition is actually the thing that will set you apart. Composition has nothing to do with your technical knowledge and hence it is pure art. When you are shooting a portrait, make sure that you are not focusing on the subject alone. Look around for interesting things. Find out the objects that can bring a sense of story into the frame. Composition alone can make or break your image. A lot of practice is actually required to master this art of composition.

7) Lighting:

Lighting has a huge impact on portrait photography. Learn the different types of lighting used in portrait photography. The use of natural light is also advised. Portraits shot in natural light tend to attract a lot of attention since they look more real and lively. Having said this, the same can be achieved using different types of artificial lighting methods too. The 3 point lighting setup using the key light, fill light and rim light should be comfortable to you. The change in intensities of each of these lights can completely change the perspective of your image. For example a very bright key light can lead to very harsh shadows. These can be used to depict a very dark and suspicious mood.

Portrait photography depends on a lot of aspects. It is quite difficult to make your mark in the world of portrait photography.  With the above mentioned guidelines you can actually bring about a difference to your portrait photography game and find out ways to stand out of the crowd!

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