Basic Portrait Photography Tips for Beginners

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Portrait photography came into existence when the camera was invented and it largely replaced painted portraits.  Portrait photographs can be of a single person or a group of people and can be the joy and pride of the person or family.  Portrait photos can make for classics when done well.  Here are some basic tips for portrait photography for beginners.

Lighting

One of the most important aspects in portrait photography for beginners.  Lighting can make all the difference between a mediocre portrait and a stunning one.  Studio lighting can be set according to the kind of look you want.  Start with the basic butterfly lighting, which uses two lights, one directly in front of the subject’s face and the other at an angle on the side.  For outdoor or natural light portraits you have to depend on sunlight.  Try window portraits with the subject’s face partially shaded or outdoor ones with a scenic background.  Avoid harsh direct light as it will take away from the subject’s face.  As a beginner, whether studio or natural light, experiment with light position, angles, time of day, backgrounds, etc., and see which lighting best suits which kind of portrait.

Posing

Depending on the kind of portrait you want, try and get your subject to reflect that mood.  Even slight changes in facial expressions can lead to dramatic differences in the portrait. Also angle of the subject’s face/body could change the effect of the photo.  Try shooting from different angles.  The trick is to click as many photos with varying poses as you can, you will capture a range of expressions and moods.

Background

Avoid any distraction in the background. No clutter or bright lights, unless that is the look you want.  For outdoor portraits, try to keep the background subtle so that the focus is on the subject.

Reflector

Use of reflectors can dramatically alter light effect and contrast of a portrait.  Different reflectors give different effects.  For example, a gold reflector will give a softer look while a silver reflector produces a brighter look.

Communication

Communication with your subject is extremely important.  When someone wants a portrait photo taken, make sure you understand what kind of portrait they have in mind.  In turn, ensure that your subject understands your instructions during the photo shoot clearly.  Good communication will make shooting the portrait more relaxed and fun and will also yield much better pictures.

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