If the art of photographing people with an intent to capture every detail had been so easy, there would have been no fun in pursuing it as a hobby. It is essential to know the tricks of the trade in order to stand out among professional contemporaries. Knowing the fact that every single detail affects the end result would be a nice start. From every single detail, there are a ton of details; big and small; which has to be taken care of in order to leave a lasting impression with those photos you just captured.
- Using the Correct Equipment
To start with, one must be equipped with the accurate gear meant for the trade. As it can be guessed, making the choice of a high-quality camera is the beginning of portrait photography. The range of DSLRs available online as well as in stores is highly diverse. There is really no perfect DSLR; it depends on the skill of the photographer and familiarity with all the functions of the instrument. It is pointless using a high-end DSLR like a simple camera. Hence whenever a brand new DSLR is purchased, go through the instruction manual carefully. Refer to Youtube videos for the correct usage, specific to the model that has been bought.
Following the selection and mastering of a decent camera, the next part is the lighting. It refers to any additional artificial light that may or may not be added to maintain a desired brightness and contrast in the clicked pictures. To have the optimal lighting, the direction, number and type of light bulbs used are taken into consideration. The only issue to be avoided is excessive brightness, which may ruin the perfection of the portrait photography.
The camera, mounted on a stand and the lighting setup to be used along with the background cover are collectively referred to as a studio. You too can set up a studio in your home basement. However seldom does it happen that portrait photography is done in home studios? To add the realistic touch to the photos, most of the times the locations are outdoor. This brings us to the next point to attend, which is the scouting activities for the right location.
The weather conditions play a predominant role in scouting. Too much of wind speeds can turn out to be a disaster for the camera and lighting equipment. The weather also helps to decide the amount of lighting required. When the lighting is optimum, then the effort needed for post-processing of the photos is greatly reduced. Early mornings and twilight are the most suitable parts of the day for portrait photography.
While photographing, remember the phrase “Once is not enough”. Do not settle down with a single picture. Instead of it, try different angles for the same pose and compare amongst them. Scrutinize these angles carefully and make a note of which angles are suitable and which angles you are comfortable with. Once a single photo is selected from the numerous ones, the rest of these become miscellaneous pictures. Keep the miscellaneous pictures handy in the form of samples. For subsequent portrait photography sessions, these samples can be shown and the model can select any one which seems fit. Over time, the photographer develops a rough idea on which angles are preferred by maximum models.
Backgrounds are often customized and changed using props. When it comes to props, almost anything can be used as a background as long as it can reflect back the light and create a surreal appearance. The primary role of the prop is to make a sharp contrast to the model in front of it so that the portraits are more visible in photographs. The type and the nature of props used vary across photographers. Once again, there is no perfect prop. It’s a signature style of a particular photographer. It is also based on the demands of the person being photographed.
Camera configurations are again a factor influencing the quality of portrait photography. Before resorting to a single setting, work out with various setting values to observe the kind of pictures and the way in which their qualities are affected by these parameters. Experienced photographers have one or two sets of parameter values which they always use, irrespective of the location. Another smart practice adopted by experienced portrait photographers is keeping a wide array of the lens. Even more, than the camera itself, choosing the right lens is a crucial task. Maintain a collection of DSLR lenses and check if they are separately available online. Having these lenses keep you at a convenience.
- Perfecting the Practice
Having done with the equipment, the next big thing is perfection. Portrait photography does not only rely on big and fancy instruments. It is not like the one with the best gear ends up being the perfect portrait photographer. There are small points of perfection, and they can always be given attention no matter what equipment we use. This section is a very careful detail of these very same points.
Facial features are the most appealing features of a portrait. The eyes and the face are the ones which hold the spotlight. Whenever we take a glimpse at a portrait photo, the face is the first one which grabs our eyeballs. Hence the eyes should never be neglected. Improper adjustment of lighting and camera angle may lead to the eyes being partially visible in the picture. Besides applying post editing to the eye portion is not of much use as they should be kept absolutely realistic. Before the photo is captured, the camera automatically detects the face portion, while cameras of much higher resolution and quality can even detect the eye regions. During such instances, keep it in mind that the autofocus is placed with a heavier stress on the eyes than the rest of the face.
Filters applied during the post-processing should not ruin the essence of the realness of the photo. Not saying no to filters, but they should be such which complement the photo and add to its grandeur without making it too unrealistic. Meanwhile, you can definitely experiment with the color and black-and-white format in your photographs. In some cases, black-and-white look more beautiful than color. In some other cases, photographers prefer colored images as the color contrast is not depicted in the portrait photographs. In order to retain the quality of the photographs, photographers often tend to shoot pictures in RAW format, which generates digital negative pictures. When these same pictures are chemically treated, they produce move lively images. Regarding resolution, keep it restricted. If there is any unwanted detail that becomes difficult to edit, shorten the image resolution. Removing unwanted details must be done while clicking the picture itself.
Avoid universality in portrait photography. This means that depending on the situation, the required usage of equipment and camera angles should be greatly varied. A single method should not be followed for all types of photographs. Surely the way in which we click family pictures is not the same way we click selfies while being in a hanging out with friends. In a similar manner, family portraits, children portraits, couple portraits and all another similar kind of portraits should be approached with a different style.
Maintaining a correct posture during the photography session is a necessary part contributing to the perfection of portrait photography. During photography sessions, always provide the person or group of people with a clear idea on where to face, how to stand, how their face should be aligned to the camera lens and where they should look. During group photography, it should also be instructed to them on where each person should stand. Posture and height should not restrict a person and partially block his view in the final photographs. The particular portion to be focused in the final photograph should be taken care of. It is always advisable to change the camera angle just to ensure that the necessary part has been given detail is not partially visible. For example, in celebratory portraits where the person is holding a trophy, or an award or a certificate, the awards or achievements should be equally visible as the portraits. The agenda of the photography should not be forgotten.
Portrait photography is a learning process and it is nice to get to know the opinions of other people in your quality and skill over photography. Do not feel hesitant to request for feedback from the people you generally photograph, and the viewers of your photos. The more you get to know the criticism, the more faults will be discovered. Rectifying these faults, asking for more and constantly perfecting the skill is a cyclic process and develops over time. After years, it reaches the zenith. But for amateurs, it is a long way to the peak, and it is nice to suffice them with the fact that there is a lot to be learned. So drop the complacency and be humble.
Keeping the technical dos and don’ts of equipment aside, follow the rule of K.I.S.S. It is a colloquial abbreviation for Keep It Simple, Stupid. Do not spend loads of time perfecting a single shot and rather take multiple shots. It is more convenient to select the perfect one out of a dozen pictures than spending all the time on a single shot and eventually ending up dissatisfied with it. As long as the photo is appealing and eye-catching in its appearance, one need not worry about the intricate background details. Do not take perfection on a very serious note, unless if the situation demands so. It is agreed that portrait photography is also a freelancing business, but it is only when an art is practiced with a clear and carefree mind that the perfection is most expressed. Portrait photography is a hobby and people pursuing it do it because they love it. Had it been scrutinized on a stringent basis, people would have lost the interesting way before the present time.
Lastly, turning portrait photographs into a memory. Photos are always subject to wear and damage over prolonged years, but how do we possibly turn these photographs into a timeless and precious piece of art? This is where the idea of sketches and paintings of portrait photography comes in. Paintings are always handy as they can be preserved and they are presentable. But well paintings are not everyone’s cup of tea. One needs to be proficient in paintings to be able to paint anything they have at their disposal. Hence this issue has been resolved by some online portals who develop customized paintings based on customer requests.
https://www.portraitflip.com/ happens to be such an online portal. Here customized paintings and sketches are drawn based on photos sent to them. Not only pictures can be selected based on choice but the style of paintings is also left to the discretion of the customer. One can select the charcoal painting, or he can select a fresh watercolor painting, or he may choose to have an oil painting. All of these painting styles are accepted. Once the photo and the necessary painting style have been mentioned, they are painted and delivered back to the same person in exchange for a nominal fee.
Portraiflip has a commendable collection of such sketches and paintings, all of which have been done based on customer requests. It is no different for portrait photography as well. As long as the picture is sent and the painting style mentioned, it is only a matter of a short span of time in which they will be handed to you. I persuade you to go through their spectacular archive of drawings, which would serve better to impress any curious enthusiasts who are in need of such paintings.
Here is a picture of the archived galleries I have previously mentioned. Do not stop here and go through the rest of the pictures at the site given above.
Good luck going through these galleries!