9 Priceless Tips for Professional Portrait Photography
With mobile phones being ubiquitous, each of us frequently takes portrait photos.
But are the results professional?
If not, how do we make that leap from amateur to pro?
Find out, as we share 9 priceless tips for professional portrait photography.
Using these tips, you should easily be on your way to coming up with truly professional portrait photos, every single time.
1. Focus on the Subject
Obvious, isn’t it?
Yet, many newbies make this frequent mistake where their focus is on aspects other than the subjects themselves.
An instance would be focusing on objects other than the subject — that happen to be in the frame.
In such scenarios, it would be advisable to rid the frame of such objects (if possible). If not, then focus in the photo(s) should very clearly be on the subject alone.
2. Getting the Setting right
The right setting makes a huge difference in professional portrait photography output.
An instance would be choosing between indoors and outdoors.
While most would impulsively recommend the outdoors, it is not always the best-case scenario. For instance, you may not be able to optimally control lighting, peripheral objects, and so on, in an outdoor setting, as you would while shooting indoors.
3. Shoot from Multiple Angles
The angle at which a portrait is shot can make a significant difference in its visual appeal.
While shooting, you may not easily realise this, especially if you are just starting out with portrait photography.
As a result, we recommend that you shoot from multiple angles. This way, you are quite likely to have a shot or two which comes across as “just right”!
4. Take Multiple Shots
An extension to the previous point is to always take multiple shots.
Whether it is from various angles (recommended) or from the same one, ensure that you have a wide selection of photos to choose from.
5. Subject Pose and Emotion
Portrait photography comes across as more impactful when the subject in question has just the right pose and emotion being conveyed.
In this instance, it is difficult to predefine any set parameters.
Yet, based on the subject’s preferences as well as the experience you gain over time in professional portrait photography, you can determine ideal poses and emotions.
A lot depends on aspects such as the subject’s age, position in society, etc.
You might, for instance, prefer to capture a nobleman in an aristocratic position.
At the same time, remember there is nothing hard and fast that applies without exception here.
On the contrary, portrait pictures that defy convention stand out in more ways than one, proving truly memorable.
6. Use Props
Is this point contrary to #1 above, where we recommended you focus on the subject?
No, it is not.
After all, in this instance too, your focus remains on the subject. Props in question only aim to accentuate the overall appeal of the photo.
Let’s say you are shooting a sportsperson such as a football player. A football in the hand of your subject will only enhance the visual appeal of your professional portrait photo.
The focus unflinchingly remains on the subject.
7. Choosing between Black & White or Coloured Photos
There is absolutely no doubt that black & white portrait photos have a distinctive appeal.
Yet, that does not mean coloured ones have less appeal; they can be just as enticing as their black & white compatriots.
That is the reason we will not specifically recommend one over the other; with experience, you would be able to make an apt selection yourself.
Perhaps you can opt for both — among the multiple shots you take, as recommended in point #4 above.
Later, you can make the best output selection, with your subject in tow.
8. Experiment with your Equipment
Advanced photographic equipment comes with an absolute array of features.
While you are starting out in professional portrait photography, we strongly recommend you experiment with it.
A simple example would be opting for longer lens. These lead to elongated focal lengths in your photos. A background blur (what is referred to as “bokeh”) is created, which dynamically enhances the visual appeal of your photos.
Another instance would be changing the aperture on your camera. This especially helps with #1 above, viz. focusing on the subject wherein using a wide aperture, a relatively shallow depth of field is created. As with the longer lens instance cited above, again, backgrounds tend to get blurred as a result.
9. Editing — including the use of external tools or software
An invaluable tip vital not just to professional portrait photography but to all photography is the use of editing skills.
Remember that as you hone your editing skills, the quality and overall appeal of your portrait photos will increase incrementally.
In the context of editing, we always recommend the use of tools such as filters, overlays, etc. or the use of professional tools such as Photoshop among countless others.
Remember that ultimately it is the final output that matters; how you get there is not so critical to the process!