Hello friends! The last post has got more than a week old now. But, what does that mean? You got two weekends to practice and improve your street photography skills . Hope you all tried your hands on to capture the exceptional scenes in your usual days. I would love to see your visions, you can anytime come and clarify or ask me some topics that you want to learn about, in specific. I will be more than happy to be a part of your learnings. Coming back to this post – Let’s take a dive, deeper! As the title says this post is about how you can get better portraits. This post is about my vision and understanding of Portrait photography. It’ll also help you to improve your skills to capture street photographs as well.
What is Portrait Photography?
Portrait photography is a style or a genre in which you try to showcase the soul of your model or the character in the frame. There are a lot of variations in terms of portraits, such as traditional portraits, environmental portraits, candid, glamour, surreal, conceptual etc. We are here focusing on the things that will help you to create outstanding portraits of any kind.
Make the Camera Your Best Buddy!
As I have been stating in my previous posts , it is very important to understand your camera, your equipment before you shoot. Once you become flawless in handling your equipment you will be confident enough with whatever you are doing and will be able to focus on the art and aesthetics finally.
We see a lot of portraits in our day to day life and at times do come up with various conclusions about the picture. Is this a good portrait or not? Is the person photogenic? But the key idea is to break the barriers between the subject and the camera, help them feel confident and comfortable the way they are.
Connection is the Key for Stunning Portraits
Portrait photography is all about connection. To have a strong connection with the subject(s) starts from you, at your end. You have to make an effort to make your subject comfortable and free. To establish the same you have to be confident enough with your idea and your vision. This might include some prior research about your subject or the place, or when you meet them you can try and understand their lifestyle, routine, way of living etc. Try to familiarize yourself with their passions, beliefs, and dreams. If you would ask me what do I do? I believe music is the strongest point of connection between two people. It is beyond any barriers or boundaries. People start enjoying and get into the feel as soon as the music starts. And 40% of your job is done once the subject is in sync with the mood.
Focus on Lighting and Environment
As I always say and will continue to, keep in mind the lighting. In Portrait photography lighting plays a major role. You need to light your subject in a way that the photograph highlights the sharp features of the subject.
If you are shooting outdoor in natural light, you need to consider the time of the day and direction of the sun in mind. Ideally, your subject should be facing towards the sun or at an oblique angle with the face so that the light defines the features and not suppresses it.
On the other hand, if you are shooting inside, the choice is completely yours. Whether to shoot in ambient or natural light or to use artificial (strobes or flash) light is a call that you’ll have to make in portrait photography. Also while shooting inside you need to be aware of the space you are shooting in. Always look for interesting backgrounds according to the moods that you would want to create
Beauty is in the Eyes
Eyes are the windows to one’s soul. When shooting portraits you will almost want to place an emphasis on the eyes of the subject. You can have the perfect composition but if the eyes are not sharp your photograph is ruined. Portrait photography, most of the times is conveyed through the emotions in the eyes.
Lensing and Style
Prime lenses give wonderful results while shooting portraits such as 50mm, 85mm, 100mm, and 135mm. I would also suggest the use of 24–70mm zoom or 24-105mm zoom. Why? Because these lenses at their widest allow me to capture a lot of environment around the subject that explains the soul and the feel. For an intimate portrait photography, I would select a longer focal length like 70mm. Even when shooting with a zoom lens, I move in and out as I shoot, zooming with my feet rather than the lens.
Always try to shoot from the eye level of your subject unless and until you would want to show superiority, authority or inferiority or any such context through your portrait. Seeing eye-to-eye is a great way to make your portraits convey more of the connection that you’d established with the subject.
Inspirations and Motivations
These are very important in our lives whether we are creating images or dealing with our day to day life. You need to see a lot of photographs from great photographers across the world and not only see but OBSERVE the photographs. Portrait photography is all about observation. The style, the angle, lighting, lensing etc. Once you see good photographs, your mind and heart will automatically start working on creating something extraordinary. Study and observe different kinds of portraits and always work on the fact that how you can improve a particular portrait that defines your style.
Work on the sole thing, connection, and your photograph will speak for itself. Happy Portrait photography.