While everybody is stuck at home you might want to improve your portrait photography skills. I would love to share some tips with you that might help you with this.

Lighting your model

First of all, the most important thing of all. How are you going to light your model? Natural light is best and the only thing I would advise, unless you are used to using studio lights/ flash. Take your photos in daylight. Find a spot near a window. The window would ideally be north-facing. If you do not have a north-facing window use another window that does not have any direct sunlight coming in. You are aiming for very even light, that means very low contrast. The lack of contrast will give a smooth image. If it is too bright, all blemishes will show up. If the photo is too dark, detail will be lost and it will make the photo uninteresting. 

If you cannot find the right window, go outside, into the shade. Make sure again that the light is even and that there is no dappled light on your model.

Angles

The general rule to photograph a person is by having the camera or phone at their eye level. So make sure that if you take a photo of a child that you come down to their level. If the person is taller than you, get a little step to make up for the difference in height. Try to experiment with other angles. Be careful though, if you take a photo of a person at a lower level it can make them look taller or bigger in size. Photos taken from a higher angle can be more flattering as it will straighten out their chin. This would work best for close-ups. 

Small girl in a purple party dress sitting on a green couch

Photo taken during photo session for Theresa Bury Designs

Distance

Don’t stand too far away from the model. Come closer. The aim is to fill the frame as much as possible with your model. Avoid using zoom as it will reduce the quality of your photo and it makes the camera more prone to camera shake.  I would also suggest to focus on the model’s face and you can include the body up to the waist height. I would only take a full body photo if the clothes that the model is wearing are relevant in the photo.  

Background

The background is very important in your photo. Unless you are filling the frame with the model, be aware of what is in the background.Ideally you would use a white wall, or a wall painted in a different colour but plain. Remove any photos or frames that might be cluttering the wall. Also make sure that the floor is decluttered. If you are taking a selfie in the mirror, scan the area behind the mirror for items that can be removed. The calmer the background the better the focus on the model.Plain is key!

Girl in a white dress looking at a flower on a high table, blue background

Photo taken during photo session for Theresa Bury Designs

These are a few general rules. Feel free to experiment. It is only by trying out different things that you will improve the most. I always get students to take some very bad photos (for example in full sunlight) to make them aware of what works and what doesn’t. I have a webinar coming up in the next few weeks where I will go more into detail and also discuss different editing tools. Give my page a like (links are below) if you want to stay up to date about upcoming training courses.

Best of luck with the practice. Shoot Loads!

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