Photography is a fantastic hobby to pick up. Not only can it help you capture precious memories, but it can also be a fun way to hone your skills and create some beautiful images.
While some people like to snap pictures of nature and landscapes, others like to take portraits of people. If you fall into the latter group, then you might have some struggles getting the perfect photos you’re envisioning in your mind.
If you’re looking to up your photography skills, then you’re in the right place! Here are 8 portrait photography techniques you should try.
1. Use a Wider Aperture
One of the main things that hobby photographers don’t realize is that you need to use a different aperture for portrait photography vs other types of photography.
In general, you’ll want to use an aperture of f/2.0 or f/3.2. What this achieves is a shallower depth of field, which allows you to focus on the person in front of you and blur the background.
As a result, this will definitely draw viewers’ eyes to your subject.
Do note that this will only work for single subjects. If you’re doing group portraits, then you’ll want to use a smaller aperture to maintain focus on everyone.
2. Use a Longer Lens
Not only should you use a wider aperture, but you should also switch to a longer lens. You can opt for a standard 50mm lens, which is a mid-range telephoto lens.
However, if you want even better image compression, you should go higher, such as 85mm to 200mm. This can help you achieve that sharp focus on your subject while blurring the background too. The dynamic effect will definitely be striking!
3. Try Different Poses
You might have some go-to poses that you ask your subjects to do. But know that not every pose will work on every person, so don’t try to force it.
Have them try a variety of portrait photography poses and see which ones look and feel the best. Keep things flowing by having them move around while changing poses, as this will also switch up how the light falls on them.
If you happen upon the perfect pose and lighting, have them stop. Keep snapping away, but allow your subject to still move a little bit so you can get some alternative shots.
4. Take Candid Photos
When you have someone sit and pose for you, it can often end up looking a little unnatural. This is especially true if they don’t feel comfortable in front of a camera.
If you’re finding that sitting and posing isn’t working for your subject, don’t give up hope. Instead, have them get up and walk around, talk with you (or other people), and just get comfortable in their environment. Once they loosen up and are relaxed, this is when they’re at their best!
Make sure you snap plenty of photos while this is going on. You’d be surprised at what amazing pictures you get when your subject’s nice and comfortable!
5. Choose the Right Background
Yes, we know that portrait photography focuses on the person in front of you and the background’s usually blurred out. But even so, the background will matter a lot in setting the tone and mood of your pictures.
For example, let’s say you want to take a picture that celebrates new life for a maternity portrait. In that case, having a photoshoot in a field of sunflowers is perfect! The bright yellow flowers, their green stalks, and the sun’s rays will all help make your photos vibrant, even if they’re all blurred out in the background.
6. Think About Lighting
On that note, you’ll want to think carefully about lighting. You have 2 choices: artificial studio lighting or natural lighting. One isn’t necessarily better than the other; which you pick depends on what you wish to achieve.
If you want to get a dramatic photo, artificial lighting is the better choice in most cases. You can position your subject so that there’s a clear difference between the lighting and shadows.
Otherwise, if you want to get a lighter look, pick natural lighting. You can play around with this by either taking advantage of natural lighting coming into an indoor space or just taking your photos outside.
7. Add Props
Who says portrait photography means the subject is the only thing in the photo? One of the best tips we can give you is to add props to your photoshoots!
They don’t necessarily have to be manmade ones either. You can pick a flower and place it in your subject’s hand to give your images a softer look.
8. Pick Good Photography Software
There’s only so much you can do while taking pictures. You’ll definitely need to touch them up once you upload them!
So you’ll want to make sure you have the best software available. For many people, they use Adobe Lightroom. If for whatever reason, you don’t want to use this program, here are some great alternatives: https://setapp.com/how-to/adobe-lightroom-alternative-apps.
Whichever portrait photography technology you select, make sure you take the time to explore the features and experiment with them. Many programs have free trials, so take advantage of these to see which software suits you best.
Try Out These Portrait Photography Techniques
For those of you who were previously struggling with taking photos of people, or were hesitating to learn portrait photography, go ahead and test out these portrait photography techniques. Some might be tougher to implement, but we promise that with enough practice and experience, these tips will help elevate your portraits so they’re absolutely magical!
For more about photography, make sure you take a look at our other blog posts now!