It’s been a while since I did one of these posts. In the few portraits that I have posted, I have invariably mentioned that I’m not confident with my skills. And that still holds true. Even though most of my friends and family are happy with the photos I’ve taken of them, I don’t feel that there have been any strikingly great pictures.
So this year, improving my portrait photography skills is on the list of myriad resolutions.
The internet has a large amount of resource material about the technical aspects of taking good portraits so getting into that would be redundant. Here is one of the best collection of tips I have found : 19 portrait photography tutorials
My favorite among these tips is the article on human side of taking pictures.
The experiment that I am trying to do here, is to go through archives of portraits I have taken and figure out my own tips for taking great portraits. You will end up finding these tips elsewhere as well. I’m documenting them here for my reference as what works best for me. I’d love additions and corrections to these from you too.
1. When it comes to portraits, what is most important to me is, for the subject to like the photo. It might be a technically perfect picture but if my subject doesn’t like the way they look in their photo, I feel disappointed.
A photograph is essentially an interpretation of the photographer’s eyes and mind. So, I started training myself to believe that every living being is utterly gorgeous. With time, I’ve realized its actually the truth and I no longer need to remind myself explicitly of this fact. If you believe the person/tiger/rhinoceros in front of you is beautiful, you will end up with a beautiful portrait which they will love as well. (Now I know it would be a bad idea to go and get approval from a tiger but most of your friends or people on the street should be fairly safe)
2. Candid shots. This is a repeat from every photography tutorial but it really makes a world of a difference. Unless you are photographing a professional model whose job involves being in front of a camera, most people are going to be ill at ease the minute you point a lens at them. The best way is to get them comfortable, let them do their own thing by giving them a distraction, put your camera in continous shoot mode and try to capture perfect moments. It makes the deal harder but its worth the time and effort.
3.Following on point 2, get a telephoto lens. If you are not in their face, your subject will be more at ease and you still have the necessary control to take tight shots. I havent yet implemented this one. I use a 35 mm prime lens which makes it necessary to get close to take good face shots and it causes a few weird situations. Those who use point and shoot cameras already have this advantage since most of these cameras nowadays come with a great zoom capability.
4. Improve your communication skills and learn to make friends easily. The best photos I have, are of my closest friends. They have no inhibitions around me and usually dont take me very seriously when I’m with the camera. And its easy for me to be goofy and demanding with them making for more natural and fun shots.
5. Taking self portraits. This may sound weird. But I have realised its a great way to learn. I was my model when I got my first canon A60. Plus its okay if I lose patience with myself or end up with really bad pictures. It poses certain challenges of positioning the camera exactly how you want. But with a tripod or a flat surface and self-timer or a remote control shutter release, this can be overcome to a certain extent.
So do let me know what you think.
PS: Each one of these people would kill me individually, if these pictures end up somewhere other than here. So please don’t copy them. kthankyoubye.
PPS: Similar prior photography related posts
Shutter speed for still subjects