Portrait photography is a very popular photography style and is one of the easiest styles to do well or badly. It not only involves a lot of time and skill but also a great collaboration between the photographer and model and this relationship in pictures can be picked up on by the viewers. The mood of the picture can be seen and determined and for a good portrait photographer to work well, building a rapport with the model is crucial. Getting an image that looks natural, with flawless quality and that doesn’t look staged or setup is a quality that many good portrait photographers will pull of with ease, and for those whose pictures look a little forced and unnatural, please pay attention. The following tips will hopefully help develop the required skills in taking portrait pictures to another level.
by Kat J
Emotions and Mood
It is important that as a photographer you aware of your mood and are conscious that the mood you have will be reflected in your model. Depending on the type of portraits that you want to take Happy, energetic, sad or depressing, the photographer’s mood should mimic that vibe, and this will be passed over on to the model in some form, be it in a lighter or stronger fashion, and thus reflected in the images that are taken. So make sure that this mood can be achieved. One way of achieving this is by listening to music. Listen to fast, energetic music that can create a good vibe and sense of happiness. For the opposite effect, slower music. Possibly watch some funny videos on Youtube, speak to a fun friend who makes you laugh or eat some food that gives you a positive boost. As a photographer it is important to be aware of these triggers and employ them in the best way that suits the situation.
by Ananya Bilimale
Focus on Natural
It is important to make your images look genuine and have nothing forced or synthetic about someone’s mood. If someone is to smile or laugh, make sure that its genuine as many people viewing pictures can easily tell a forced smile. So give the person something to smile about. Help the model feel relaxed and comfortable in your presence, and ease them into the situation should they need it. Make jokes and fun remarks between frames. Another possibility is to ask the people to laugh and as the photographer, laugh with them. This at the start feels weird but strangely relaxes everyone, and soon the laughing becomes more natural and genuine.
by Cristian Newman
Add some structure to the shoot. Give each model a set of actions to do and repeat each time a picture is taken. This results in less flow and natural images but should help start the shoot in a more organised way and provide some good building blocks to work from.
The photographer should always keep talking and encouraging the models. Silence from a photographer can be perceived by the model as that they could be doing a bad job and that the end goal isn’t being achieved. So make sure to keep engaging with the model or persons involved. Make sure that they understand what is expected of them, and what the images are hoping to capture. Then working as a team, the process can evolve and the workflow will become more efficient.
by Kat J
Choice of Equipment
When taking photojournalistic style portraits its easier to get a more natural response from people. By using a telephoto lens, photographers are able to shoot from a long distance so that the subject is further away. This adds a very relaxed and unforced style of portrait photography. Try and be discreet when taking the pictures and should the person notice, smile and be respectful. This is a harder and more spontaneous style of portrait photography, but the images that are taken, if good, can be far more rewarding and satisfying afterwards.
Portrait photography is a very personal style. Different photographers have different techniques and the end results can be miles apart from each other. Depending on how a photographer perceives their model has a massive influence on the outcome. But ultimately remember to keep the model engaged in the process, encourage them and be positive with what is going on, and the end results should be portraits that capture not only the model’s essence and emotions but also the ability and creative style of the photographer. Photographic style can take many years to develop. It takes time and practice, finding what looks best to you and what captures the moment in the best way. With this style of work, there is no right or wrong and is just what looks best to the photographer. Keep shooting, keep practising and developing and spend some time researching online other photographers work, that will also help you to work out what kind of direction and creative style you are working towards.