We all know the feeling when we are given a new camera – usually the first thing we want to do is take a picture of the first person we meet. That is the reason why most people say the greatest photographers started their work at home taking pictures of their families. The real nature of photography is recording facts and events from people’s lives and giving people the opportunity to keep some memories for the next generations.
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Often amateur photographers say that portrait photography is not particularly complex and it is enough to put a person in front of the camera, determine the exposure and the distance, and then press the button. And that is the exact reason why there is often a strange-looking person on the picture or an awkward moment that we don’t want to remember about. Of course, it is impossible to expect much more from a person who have just had their first professional camera. That’s why the “victims” of the amateur photographer are usually pretty much forgiving and promise that they will pose again. And this is the moment when the beginner understands that portrait photography is not an easy job.
In order to make a good portrait, there should be a complete resemblance between the picture taken and the person posing, i.e. you need to recreate the most specific features of the person who is posing to you. Of course, human face constantly changes but it is able to show the current state of mind as well as the person’s character. And this means that a photographer needs to be also a psychologist and a director to some extent.
Portrait Photography Guide
Portrait pictures can be divided into individual portrait photos, group portrait photos and photos of children. Each one of these groups has some specific features that you need to be familiar with before starting taking pictures.
Individual Portrait Photography
Making a good portrait depends very much of the posture your “victim” takes. Most people just stand in front of the camera or even stiffen waiting for the picture to be taken. Actually taking a natural and relaxed posture is the first thing you need to look for when choosing a model. Some photographers count on the so-called “directed photos”, telling their model how to stand and where to look at, but they usually doom their portrait photos to failure. Try to be a psychologist, have a talk with your model before you take the photos and observe carefully their facial expressions and gestures. This will help you later, when taking the pictures.
The background is an integral part of the portrait pictures and you need to pay some attention to it. Background can help you make a better picture, but it also may be distracting. So, when the background you are using doesn’t have any particular task, you better choose a neutral one – plain white or grey wallpaper or a wall painted in a similar colour.
Using a background is directly related to the task you have and the individual requirements of the model. When you are looking for a greater contrast, you better put a darker background and use a lot of light on your model and the other way round. This helps a photographer to reveal the contours of the model and make it stand out.
Group Portrait Photography
When there are few participants in the group you are taking pictures of, then you can use everything we already mentioned about the individual portrait photography. However, there are usually some difficulties when taking pictures of many people, because the photographer must show great efficiency and be a real director to what happens in front of the camera. You are the person who is responsible for the alignment of your models, taking into account the height of the models, their number and the lightning.
Group portrait photography is not easy, because you need to watch for the background and its separation from the group of people you are taking pictures of. Be careful when choosing the place and the time of the photo sessions, especially when you intend to work with daylight, because this can be tricky even for some professional photographers.
Of course, you also need to bear in mind people’s psychology. Do not forget that most people are not very resistant when posing, which means that if you don’t manage to arrange them properly and take your photos quickly, they soon get tired or get bored.
The perspective you are taking your pictures from when it comes to group portrait photography is normal, and only in some rare cases – a little lower than the normal one. Choose a suitable frontal composition and be careful when trying to display also a landscape or the rest of the environment.
Children Portrait Photography
While in the individual and group portrait photography models usually follow the orders of the photographer, this is absolutely impossible when it comes to children portrait photography. That is the reason why you need to choose the perfect timing when taking pictures of children. For this purpose, there are some technical requirements you need to follow and that is usually choosing a shorter shooting speed, which is determined by the movements of the child and the need to take the picture in the best moment. That is why professional photographers often use some highly-sensitive photographic materials, especially when taking some pictures using artificial light.
Another important thing that you should bear in mind is that usually a large number of pictures is taken when working on children portrait photography. Do not be afraid or worried if child’s attention is drawn by the camera and they stare at you – this is completely normal, because it makes the child more comfortable and makes them easier to adapt.
July is passionate photographer and blogger. She spends a lot of time managing http://www.qualitycleaninglondon.co.uk/cleaning-services-w1-mayfair/ but this doesn’t stop her from taking pictures regularly.