Traditionally portrait photos always see a person sitting in front of the camera and showing off their best smile. However, far from the school and family photos, we once dreaded sitting pride of place on the mantelpiece, portrait photography has taken a slightly different direction in recent years. Creativity has reigned supreme, and several techniques can help you create mind-blowing imagery and the most striking photos you’ve ever taken.
You don’t always have to stick to the traditional rules of portrait shooting to get some of the most inspiring shots. In fact, breaking the rules a little with this type of capture can have an incredible impact.
So if you’re looking to create that wow factor when taking your next portrait images, check out these handy tips to break the mould.
Create a different perspective
We are so used to seeing portrait photos of the subject facing front and looking forward that it was once the norm to shoot everything like this. However, the beauty of photography is that it’s a creative field so you can have fun with different perspectives. You could opt for an angle that looks at the subject in an alternative way such as shooting from above and looking down. There is also the option to shoot from the floor and look up. These angles give varying viewpoints but create an exciting twist to the usual forward-facing shot.
Play with composition
There are often a lot of rules surrounding the composition of a picture. However, many of the best shots break all of them. While a subject that is dead centre looking at the camera can create a striking photograph, that doesn’t mean it has to be that way in every shot. The composition should elevate the message you are trying to portray in your shot. Something as simple as creative placement to the side of a shot can create an image of space and emptiness, and this can be impactful on certain types of campaigns such as emotional and thoughtful pieces.
Using eye contact effectively
As mentioned above, portrait imagery often focuses on forward-facing shots, so eye contact is always facing forward. However, playing with this aspect can create a powerful image. A great way to use the subject to portray intrigue and interest is to have them look into the distance in the shot. Creating emotion in an image will lead the viewer to ask questions of perhaps what are the feeling or looking at. There are many scenarios you can create with this type of shot. However, it’s also essential to ensure the eye is not drawn away from the subject in the photo. So providing you capture the right balance will bring the eyes to the focal area.
This type of shot can also have the subject within the frame itself. This could mean they are looking at a person or object within the shot. Using this perspective can help to guide the viewer on the relationship between the two or the context of the picture. It’s a great way to tell a story and is also perfect for family imagery.
Lighting is everything
One of the most important aspects of any picture is lighting. This element can create a whole range of different effects and moods in your shot. There is often unlimited ways that you can create portraits with varying methods of lighting. However, there are some firm favourites to try including:
Side-lighting – This type of shot is perfect for creating drama. By using shadows, it allows you to showcase the mood and silhouette of the subject beautifully. It can also hide features of the subject to add mystery and intrigue.
Golden hour shooting – One of the best times for shooting landscape photography is sunrise and sunset, and this can also be an excellent opportunity to shoot portraits too. The glow of the sun at these times creates incredible warmth and allure in images and often works beautifully against the skin.
Shoot candid photos
Not all photos need to be posed for. In many cases, candid imagery offers some of the best ways to showcase the subject. It’s natural that some people can’t pose well and don’t feel comfortable having their picture taken, so this is a great option. Candid shots are often used at weddings and when photographing children and families. These pictures show everyone just going about their regular business without feeling pressurised into acting or posing in a certain way.
Change the focus
Portraits often involve photographing the face. However, that doesn’t always have to be the case. Changing the focal point of the image can create an impactful message and is ideal for fashion shoots and lifestyle imagery. These types of images often leave something to the imagination. They can also highlight the aspect that you want to showcase such as hands, lower body or feet etc. If you are shooting products, photographing from this perspective will also draw attention to the items, for example, jewellery on hands and wrists.
Shoot in bursts
Another way to shoot candid style photos is to switch your camera to shoot continuously or in bursts. This can help if the subject is moving into different poses to try and get the best angles. This technique is also helpful if you are self-shooting, and many bloggers use this style of photography if they don’t have a photographer to hand.
Don’t be afraid to use props in portrait imagery, as they can help to enhance the photo. However, although accessories can help, they can also hinder and totally obscure the subject if not used effectively. Be sure to use props that add depth to an image and give that wow factor. If it’s taking up too much space or making the eye wander, it’s best to remove it.
These are some of the ways to make your portrait images really pop. So why not try some of them for your next shoot.