A portrait photograph of high quality can mesmerize those who look at them, giving great insight into not only the subject's physical stature, but also their emotions and feelings. Such photographs will stand the test of time and be enjoyed by many generations.
Experience taking photographs is a great factor in how good a portrait photograph will turn out. Professionals understand how to set the lighting, frame the subject and appropriately capture the mood of the occasion. Although you may not have that level of expertise, you too can take portrait photographs of high quality, if you keep these tips in mind:
Background - Perhaps the most important consideration, but least considered, is the portrait's background. All photos with a person as the main focus should employ a subtle background that does not draw attention away from the person. The intent of a portait photo is the subject's face, so be sure to take such pictures that are composed in such a way as to not detract from it. Also, when considering color, choose a background that consists entirely of non-bold, preferably solid colors. Again, the rule of thumb is that any color that draws focus away from the person is a bad one.
Lighting - Natural lighting must be used for portrait photographs, as it is much better at capturing skin tone and a person's full range of colors. These subtle differences are not picked up well by a flash. The best time to take the picture is during the day, outside, since at this time you can make full use of the sunlight. You will want to find a location in which the sunlight hits the object from the side. If you take a photo with the sun behind the object, it will not turn out well. What you will end up seeing is a silhouette of the person. Similarly, do not take photos with the sun in front of the subject, or you will end up with distorted colors and overexposure.
Blurring - The first two tips are by far the most important, but this one is also quite helpful. The problem is that it can be tricky for non-experts. This technique involves blurring the details of the background. This will make the object appear to be separated from the background, seemingly projected outward towards you. To accomplish this feature, you will need to situate your camera to a shallow depth of field. To do that, use a zoom lens and take your shot from relatively nearby or with a widened aperture setting (manual). This might sound difficult, but once you figure it out it will seem easy. If possible, get an expert to walk you through the process the first time.
Eyes - Of all the facial features, eyes are the most important for a portrait photograph. This is because eyes are the best feature in terms of conveying emotions. A subtle difference in the look of the eyes will display different feelings and emotions. Be sure to focus on them so that your photograph projects all of those wonderful feelings to the viewer. If you are trying to convey a particular emotion, you may want the subject to look directly at you (meaning the camera) or sideways at another object. For a traditional portrait, have the subject look at the camera.
If you have a high quality camera, and are patient enough to experiment with different backgrounds, subjects, and moods, you will undoubtedly gain the skills necessary to create portrait photos of great quality.
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