Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Portrait Photography Tips


A big fat F is what I am giving myself on this post.  It’s not that I didn’t try.  I researched and I read and read, but I just couldn’t put into words how to take portraits.

Here’s what I did come up with.

According to Wikipedia, Portrait photography or portraiture is the capture by means of photography of the likeness of a person or a small group of people (a group portrait), in which the face and expression is predominant. The objective is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the subject. Like other types of portraiture, the focus of the photograph is the person's face, although the entire body and the background may be included. A portrait is generally not a snapshot, but a composed image of a person in a still position. A portrait often shows a person looking directly at the camera.

I personally think it is ok if the subject isn’t looking at the camera, but that’s me. 

I am going to discuss some of the portrait tips I have read.

My favorite one is to keep the scene simple.  Keep your backgrounds (and foregrounds) uncluttered, work with natural light where you can, if you have to use artificial light keep it simple and use as few lights as possible. 

I think Bokeh also helps with this.  If you have a busy background then blur it up so that the focus stays on your subject. 

Here’s an example using a photo I took a few months ago.


The background is blurred and you only notice the pretty faces. 

Here is an example of my son with a simple background and I let him use a prop.  What teen isn’t comfortable holding a cell phone? 


I also used natural light from the window.

This shot has too much going on in the background and it is harder to focus on the irritated boy that has to help me with my blog subject.

IMG_5693 copy

So simple or blurred background.  Easy enough right?

Another major thing to remember is to watch the objects near the subject. 

This shot is bad for many reasons.

IMG_5685 copy

It looks like my son is wearing a lamp shade hat, it is overexposed and the the placement of him in the photo is all wrong. 

I can’t fix the overexposure (too light), but I can crop this image and make it look much better.


IMG_5685 copy

IMG_5685 copy-1IMG_5685 copy

Big difference huh? 

Cropping is really a great way to make a good shot look great. 

This is a portrait of a squirrel that was in my neighbor’s pecan tree.

IMG_5665 copy-1

I like this shot, but look what happens when I crop it even closer.

IMG_5665 copy

A word of warning though.  You have to have plenty of megapixels to crop your photo significantly.  

If you zoom in to begin with you will eliminate your need to crop. 

Blurry photos are never good.


Blurry backgrounds good.  Blurry subjects not so much.  Nothing fun about looking at this photo is there?

Shooting form different angles can make portraits more interesting. 


I was sitting on the couch and my son was laying on the floor with the dog. 

There is so much information out there I just don’t know how to sum it all up.  Let’s just see what you come up with and if you used an idea or technique you learned let us know about it. 

I will also be doing a separate post on self portraits in the next couple of days.  You can add a self portrait to your upcoming portrait post if you want to and if you don’t that’s ok too. 

Remember the part will be on the 14th of March so start getting those photos ready and I hope to see you there.  I will be asking Karina and Judith (winners from the b&w photo party) to be guest judges.  I will let you know what they decide soon.

The next party will be trying to get photos at night or by candle light.  This should be interesting to learn. 




Related Posts with Thumbnails