Tips to Get Professional- Looking Portrait Photographs

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You would have at some point or the other looked at gorgeous portrait photographs that have “professional” written all over them.  However, when you get down to it, most professional portrait photographers are self taught.  Here are some tips to keep in mind if you want to get professional-looking portrait photographs.

Lens

When choosing the camera lens the main points to consider are zoom and aperture.  Starting with a basic zoom lens you can gradually move on to prime lenses.  If possible, get an interchangeable lens camera.  It works best as you can interchange the lens depending on the look you want and the background.  A wide lens aperture will give you a shallow field of depth, which means your subject is in focus and the background is blurred.  With interchangeable lenses you can change to super-sharp optic that will give you sharper and clearer portraits.
    

Optimal use of natural light

Most professional photographers would advise you to make the best use of natural light.  The best times for outdoor photography are dawn and dusk.  There is sufficient light around with just a hint of warmth to give you stunning professional-looking portraits.
    

Artificial lighting

If you are shooting in a studio, you can work with a simple key light placed strategically, or you could go the whole length with elaborate equipment including multiple lights, reflectors, umbrellas, off-camera flash, etc.  With most of this equipment, of course, you would need an assistant.  The trick with artificial lighting is placement.  Play around with it until you get the best effects.  Also, try different angles of light to drastically change the mood of your portrait.
    

Direction of light

Whether outdoor or studio portraits, you will get the best portraits when you have your subject facing the light, either directly or at an angle.  When shooting in natural light, get your subject to pose facing the sun.  In a studio you can manipulate the direction of light to fall on your subject’s face.  The only exception is if you are shooting in bright sunlight.  In this situation, getting your subject to face the sun would lead to them squinting into the camera as well as you ending up with overly bright, harsh-looking portraits.
    

Post-production

Always try to shoot your portrait photographs in RAW.  Afterwards check the photos and then, if required, do whatever Photoshop or other post-production alterations you need.

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