There are a few specific ways to discover how to take portraits of people, and I'm going to share some of those tips with you today. Lighting, composition, camera settings and your lens are the right places to start when you begin to take portraits of people. Lighting and your lens are the first two considerations.
Without good lighting and a specific portrait lens, your portrait photography can become less than stunning. It is important that you take note of this list I am about to give you so that your portrait photography lasts forever.
Photographing the eyes, skin tone and facial expression are the key essentials that make up a good portrait of somebody. The beauty about portrait photography is that you can do it as a candid photo as opposed to a portrait shot in a professional photography studio. Someone's cheery facial expression combined with high-quality lighting and a good lens can be a key ingredient in successful portrait shots.
You do not always require a studio to take high-quality portraiture. You can shoot portraits outdoors, or inside even if you do not have a professional photography studio. I have taken many photographs of clients in many assisted situations. They have all been slightly different portraits but they are still portrait photography. A different place does not signify they are not portraits.
So what are these diverse places and situations? I have shot photos of people on the stage, collecting their citizenship certificates from the mayor, reading underneath a tree in a garden, celebrating their birthday, taking their vows of marriage and smiling at their loved one when they did not think they were having their photograph taken. All these separate situations make up portrait photography. So let's begin …
What Is The Best Lighting for Portrait Photos?
Let's start with the most significant thing in portrait photography. If you want to discover how to take good portraits then this is where you begin. Lighting will either make or fracture your portrait photo. You need exactly the right amount of lighting to highlight the human being you're creating photos of.
Lighting also has an effect on mood and feeling. When you opt for lighting that is soft and dim this may create a more romantic feeling. When you go for lighting that is very bright and high in contrast, this is ideal for things like sports portrait photography. If you want to create a romantic sentiment in your shots then think about softening your light. Creating gentle light can make portrait photography more interesting.
Choose the lighting that is well-matched to the situation. Wedding photography that has filtered lighting can work very well. However if you are photography some kids in the park, then you may want to choose a bright and colorful lighting effect. Something that is vivid and vibrant can represent happiness and liveliness. A sense of fun can be enhanced by the right lighting.
So what about situations where lighting is poor? I have been in many situations before where it has been almost no lighting and I have not been able to use the flash. In this situation you may want to turn your ISO up to the highest setting. If you can use your flash then do it.
Do not stand too close to the person you're photography and fire the flash at the same time. Depending on what flash that is on your camera you may be able to have different intensities of flash light being fired. Or if you have flash built into the camera you may not be able to control the intensity of the light. This depends on the camera on the sort of flash you have. If you stand too close to the person you are going to overexpose the features on their face, produce small, vivid areas of light on their cheekphones and nose. No matter how hard you try it will not be able to remove it easily in Photoshop.
If you are creating photos of someone at a party at night-time, and the flash is the only source of lighting you have, then make sure you stand back from the person. Any closer than 3 meters may overexpose the person. You also do not want to blast them with an eye full of extreme, dazzling light. I prefer to shoot with a long telephoto lens and use the flash simultaneously. I like to stand back and zoom in, and increase my flash up to the maximum intensity. Whenever I've done this I have found that I have a nice light over the person's features.
Bouncing the flash is a great method to enhance portrait photography. When you bounce the flash you basically twist the head of the flash up to the ceiling, or towards a wall, and allow the light to reflect from that source back to the person. Bounced light is softer and a lot better for portraits. It is a wonderful way to get better portraits at weddings, birthdays and celebrations.
Always remember that your lighting must be well balanced. You need soft lighting over your person's face to create an appealing portrait photo. Even if you have the best lens and camera in the world, it will not help you at all unless you have the light spread evenly across the people features. This emphasizes the eyes and smile.
Color Portrait Photography
Color portrait photography covers many things. Wedding photography is a classic example of this. As I have spoken about your lighting and things that you can do with your lighting, I will now cover color.
The secrets and techniques to color portrait photography are of course your lighting but is also color matching. For example, if you want to generate a beautiful color portrait then you would not only expose the light in a good way, but you would make sure that the colors match. This is a big secret that photographers have up our sleeves. Let me explain.
Color portrait photography is successful when all the colors complement each other within the one image. If you want to create a color portrait that is striking then choose colors that go well with the person's skin tone. Let's take the example of a woman with blond hair, light skin and green eyes. If you were to dress her in black it would not look good on her at all. However earthy Greens, light pink, blue and purple, will suit her complexion. Someone who has black hair, dark skin and brown eyes may be suited to other colors. They may look fantastic in white, black or other different colors.
The secret that portrait photographers use when creating beautiful portraits are "color matching" when recommend what to wear. If you're photographing many people in your portrait photography then it always looks nice to dress people in either the same or very similar colors. A family photographed on the beach might look nice all dressed in white, blue and yellow. It does not have to be the same white, blue and yellow, but if you keep with the same color theme then you will begin to create stunning portraits.
Camera Settings for Portraits- Accurate Camera Settings For Portraits Depends On Your Lighting.
It is rather tough to inform you what the ideal camera settings for portraits really are. You see digital camera settings are the way they are because of the lighting that you have to work with. If I advise you that F-14 and a shutter speed of 1/80 is the best setting then your portrait shot could possibly be misleading if you are photographing people at night time with the flash, for example.
However I can tell you that your aperture can have a huge impact on your portrait photography. If you are creating photos of someone close close and want to blur the background then I would support you to look at a big f stop. F 4 might be a better place to start. When you zoom into someone's face and you use a big aperture, you may see that the background is totally blurry. This works very well when there are distracting subjects in the environment that you want to remove. It works very well when you just want to capture on the person's eyes.
So what about shutter speed? Again it depends on the lighting you have to work with. It also depends on if you are taking candid portraits or whether you are shooting posed portraits. The difference will be the amount of speed and movement. Candid portrait can at times be tricky in low light and this can create difficulty in getting the precise shutter speed. The camera may be telling you that it wants you to slow down the shutter speed. However, you know that if you do, you will completely blur the person. And that may not be ideal for the setting.
If you are photographing your portrait photo in studio lighting then these things are not going to be a big setback. You will always still need to watch your shutter speed because even the smallest movement at a slow shutter speed can create out of focus pictures. Decide on the shutter speed that is quite fast so that you will not have to be anxious about blur from any movement.
So as you can see camera settings of portraits is not a black-and-white topic, excuse the pun. You need to work out the right camera settings to your portraits based on the lights but you have to work with. As I mentioned portrait photography covers a wide range of areas and conditions so it is ideal that everything is well exposed and that you have the exact shutter speed to match the movement.
Which Is the Right Lens for Portrait Photography?
Being a professional photographer means I have many lenses to choose from. I have many lenses because it gives me the ability to be adaptable in each situation. This does not mean that you have to rush out and acquire different lenses yourself. I recommend trying out ports with one lens so that you get comfortable with how your lens works with portrait shots.
Different lenses give different effects. A 50 mm fixed focal length lens is a good focal length for portrait photography. You can get up close to someone without making their nose look too huge as a wide angle can sometimes do. In fact I suggest staying away from wide-angle lenses for your portrait photography. You have to be able to get a good head and shoulders shot, medium crop or good vertical length shot. You can achieve this using a couple of lenses.
I guess I would have to admit that my favorite portrait lens is the 70 to 200 mm cannon telephoto lens. I am a Canon user however I have used Nikon in the past and found both of them excellent. Nikon also has a 70 to 200 mm telephoto lens that I found excellent. At this focal length you can take remarkable candid portraits and you can also use this lens to take clear studio shots too. You almost certainly do not need a focal length that is so long if you are working in the studio. Your 50 to 70 mm range will probably do quite fine.
Why do I like 70 to 200 mm? Basically because it gives me the versatility of zooming in quite close up to someone and it also gives me the flexibility to take candidate shots in social situations. I find the flexibility and adaptability of this focal range very clever indeed. I know photographers that take a couple of cameras to a wedding because they have numerous lenses that they want to utilize. I find the 70 to 200 mm range does the job just fine.
These are pricey lenses. This is a professional capability lens so I propose becoming very familiar with the lens you have before buying something like this. I also have a 24 to 105 mm lens that works very skilfully for portrait photography too. I only prefer to use the 70 to 200 mm as many times I do candid shots. Having that additional focal length of 200 mm lets me to get a little bit closer than I could with a 105 mm.
I have also taken ports with the 50 mm lens that have worked superbly. However I can not really do this in a candid situation. I simply can not get in directly enough without being noticed. When I have done animal portraits and ordinary human portraits, I found that the 50 mm prime lens was a clear lens to use. If someone knows they're going to have their picture taken then they will definitely sit still for you. The 50 mm prime lens is sharp and clear for posed portraits up close.
In a nutshell I guess I would have to say that it is dependent on the sort of portrait photography that you are doing, as to what lens to use. Try and acquire a lens that works perfectly for the type of portraits you take.
Creative Portrait Photography Ideas
There are lots of creative portrait photography ideas that you can use easily and swiftly. Here are a few ideas that you can use. I use them in my portrait photography so please feel free to use them as well.
People talking over lunch or dinner
Watching boats at a Mariner
Playing with the cat, For example throwing the Ball
Feeding the ducks at the local creek or pong
Sitting on the riverbank waiting for a fish
Doing an activity they like, like perphas painting, playing their sport etc
Posed portrait photography:
Leaning up alongside a beautiful old tree and looking at the camera
Relaxing on a park bench with stunning leaves behind them
Being photographed, tightly cropped, with nature on all sides of them
Sitting with their child, both looking at the camera
Do not forget to combine black and white into the mix. Black and white portraits can provide a beautiful, timeless look to your photos. And, in a basic sense, everyone looks great being photographed in black and white. When you come to your post processing, reduce a little of the mid tones, boost your contrast and you will have a good black and white photo.
These are just some ideas that you can use to produce lovely inventive portraiture. You will find the more you do it the more creative ideas come. It really is just a matter of preparation and application. You will be successful in no time.
Just remember that the key to taking sharp portraits is good lighting, knowing how to use your camera, being aware of the camera settings for the light and being proficient to work well with people.
You also need to be a person person when you specialize in portrait photography. Your clients want to feel comfortable and safe in your hands. Always treat them with respect and kindness and you will get better portrait photos every time!
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by Amy Renfrey