I have always found portrait photography one of the most challenging types of photography.  For the most part that is because I do so little of it and practice, practice, practice is what makes you better at any type of photography.  So I have been practicing more lately with any willing models I can find.

Here are a few tips to help improve your portrait photography that I have discovered along the way.

1) Pay as much attention to the background as you do to the model.  A busy background can draw attention away from the model.  Objects positioned just right (or wr0ng) can look like they grow out of the models head.  If necessary move your model or if possible use a shallow depth of field to blur out your background.

2) As with all photography lighting is key.  But when photographing people there are no constants with lighting.  Skin tones, clothing, the setting; these all need to be taken into consideration when you are lighting your subject.  I prefer ambient lighting when shooting outdoors.  But in a studio play around with your lighting (even if you don’t have professional studio lighting) to make sure you are seeing your model in their best light.

3) Every model is different, especially when it comes to children versus adults.  Some people are more comfortable in front of the camera than others and you need to feel out their comfort level and work with it.  Suggest poses and let them come up with their own if they want.  Don’t force a smile; if it does not come naturally it will look forced on the final image.  Above all, just do what comes natural to your model.

These images are from a photo shoot I did with my niece using a seamless back drop and studio lighting in some and an outdoor setting with natural lighting in some.

Studio Lighting
f/5.6 – 1/15 sec – ISO 200 – Focal Length 60 mm

Studio Lighting
f/5.6 – 1/10 sec – ISO 200 – Focal Length 35 mm

Natural Outdoor Lighting
Note the background.  I like how the square pattern of the fence compliments
the plaid of her shirt yet it is blurred out enough so as not to be too much
of a distraction from the model.
f/5.6 – 1/60 sec – ISO 200 – Focal Length 200 mm

Natural Outdoor Lighting
f/5.6 – 1/100 sec – ISO 200 – Focal Length 200 mm

5 Responses to “Portrait Photography”

  1. Mike, Studio city

    on August 30 2010

    It’s nice to have an attractive model. Your niece is very pretty. Next time have her take the camera and get a photo of you in this blog as well. The fourth photo has very good lighting.

  2. Mike

    on August 31 2010

    I am behind the camera because I hate being in front of it. :-)

  3. Mike, Studio city

    on August 31 2010


  4. Lloyd Barnes

    on September 9 2010

    Excellent advice. Nothing beats great “golden hour light” like in the last shot!

  5. Mike

    on September 9 2010

    Thanks Lloyd! I agree that the golden hour light really makes a big difference.

Comment RSS · TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Name: (Required)

E-mail: (Required)