To shoot stunning portraits is what we love. The subject may be our friend, family member, a client, or a model. A good portrait tells us something, creates some mystery or brings out some memories. Good portraits also reveal the true personality of someone (just kidding).
1. Location. If you don’t have like me or can’t create a photo studio, concentrate on environmental portraiture. Show the subject and also his surroundings (indoor or outdoor)
2. Background. Background plays a vital role to a portrait. As you know, portrait is all about someone’s face. So it is important to have a background which is not interfering with the subject. A simpler and less cluttered background works better for portraits. However, sometimes surroundings may need to be considered to bring out the personality of the subject. Including the background will establish identity. However, the background does not have to be prominent. Make it blurred or dimmed by focusing on the subject. The same applies to almost all types of portraits. In most cases, it is a good idea to blur or dim the background. This can be accomplished by using a zoom lens and shooting from a short distance or with a wide aperture.
3. Light. If you take the portrait in natural light, you have the best chance of getting a great look with the natural colors and skin tones. However, shooting outdoors may be tricky, as you may not be able to control the light in most situations. Make sure that you don’t pose the subject right in front of the sun. This may cause unwanted brightness or deep shadow. Shooting in mid-day also should be avoided as much as possible. For best results, position the subject in such a way that sunlight falls on the face from the side. You may also use reflectors or an external flash to light up some parts of the face. If you are shooting indoors, make sure that you use a soft, evenly distributed light source to light up the subject.
4. Aperture. Try different apertures. A wide open aperture (with a lower number) will blur the background and make the subject stand out. A smaller aperture (with a higher number) will make the whole scene come into better focus. Typically f/2.8 to f/4.0 is good for portraits.
5. Focus. As it is said, “Eyes are the mirrors of mind.” That’s true in portraits, too. When taking portraits, your focus should be your model’s eyes. Eyes have a lot of stories to tell, and as a good portrait photographer; you should be able to bring those out in your photographs. And it’s not always a smiling face which makes a good portrait. Try capturing different expressions while keeping focus on eyes.
6. People skills. And finally the most powerful tip to shooting awesome portraits: it’s in your people skills. There is one single thing that every great portrait photographer knows how to do and that is to make the subject relax and feel comfortable. What your subject feels will shine through. I cannot emphasize that enough. So if the model/client/whatever is feeling uncomfortable it WILL be visible in the final picture. Work on your people skills and your portraits will come out better no matter what technology you use.
This are some very basic tips on how to shoot portraits of course you are free to ignore them because sometimes an unfocused gesture is more powerful than some sharp eyes so try, improve or ignore this tips.