Photographing portraits, learn to shoot high-quality portrait

Portrait photography

Portrait - not just the most popular genre of photography, but also one of the most difficult. In order to get a quality portrait, not correctly exposed picture and get a sharp image.

Portrait, above all, should say something about the nature of man, his inner life, mood and emotional state.

To convey this information to the viewer, it must first catch in the frame, which requires a lot of experience of the photographer and a sense of the moment. How many photographers, there are as many ways of shooting.

In this article I will reveal some of the highlights in portraits as in studio and outside the studio. The material will be useful for both novice amateur photographers and those who want to raise the level of their photos are much higher.

What to for portraits

Lens - a key element of any camera, the level of which is determined by birth of the materials used, the quality of their processing, functionality, aperture, focal length range, etc. The higher these numbers, the more expensive product. There are lenses that cost exceeds the cost of a 3-room apartment with renovated (100-200 thousand Euro). But the article is not about that. Often you can see a portrait (close-up) beautiful girl with a deformed face, the central part of which is slightly convex - the effect of the "big nose".

This effect can cause high lens distortion, or other factors, which are listed below. You can shoot a portrait lens with any focal length, but on one condition: it is impossible to approach the subject closer than 1.6 - 1.8 m at this distance only preserves the natural proportions of the face and eliminates distortion. Otherwise, you get a distorted portrait of a person works, the so-called effect of "big nose.

Photographer takes a girl on a digital compact camera

Taking off the normal (regular) 50mm. lens or a compact camera. See the photo above, the amateur photographer, wanting to stay in a close-up portraits, of course, it comes closer to the sitter not knowing that by doing so, he determines in advance the future of image distortion. Therefore, the best option is to shoot a portrait lens with a focal length of 85 or 135 mm. Thus removing the lens from a distance no closer than 1.6-1.8m., we get a close-up background with minimal impact while keeping the natural proportions of the main subject. To reduce the sharpness of the background and foreground redundant field (discourage background), remove the diaphragm F 5,6 or greater relative aperture.

Remember, the larger the lens aperture (the smaller the number of F, for example, 1:1.4), the wider the range of selection options exposure, depth of field. That means more opportunities for the implementation of the objectives and plans of the photographer.

Portrait in the photostudia

Light - what lighting equipment do you use studio lights, or simple external flash pulse - no matter, as long as the light (natural as well), and you were able to use it wisely.

Camera - film or digital, again - it does not matter, as long as you have it was in working order.

Studio - when has a studio - it's great, but having a studio is not required. Practice shows that the combined use of natural light or when shooting portraits outside the studio, you can get great results. Where you're shooting a portrait - not important, it is important to what, how and why. Therefore, if you do not have a photo studio - do not worry, learn to shoot portraits, shoot wherever we can, and you will be rewarded.

The light-sensitive (ISO)

It all depends on the shooting conditions, goals and ideas photographer. Depending on the capabilities of the camera, lens speed, clarifying devices, set ISO 50 or 100. For best performance, under normal conditions, it is necessary to use the smallest number of ISO.
Remember - the more the number of ISO, the more noise, hence the lower the quality of the picture. This applies to both digital and film cameras. For the latter, the quality depends on the level of the materials used in the manufacture and processing.

Extract (shutter speed)

Exposure for portraits should be as short as possible to fix the most natural look and prevent grease images (handshake). Optimal exposure = 1/200sek.

Metering (metering method)

In order not to lose a good shot because of the "eliminations" sections of lights when shooting portraits is to use center-weighted metering method.
- How does it work?
- The camera froze all over the frame, assigning more weight to the center, thus preventing overexposure of light skin and clothing.

Interact with the model

Photographer engaged portraits have to be a little psychologist, feel the human condition. The task of the photographer - to fix a maximum of emotions in a short time. But to evoke emotions, we need to find the strings that will best help the person to open up. Photographer is obliged to be sociable, to create a creative and unfettered atmosphere in the studio or in the open air. See photo below. All sorts of jokes also contribute to the disclosure model. Tandem "photographer-model" - that should be based on what the process of shooting. If the model is constrained, clamped, throw all their forces to something to "stir" it, and only then start shooting if you want a dynamic and vibrant pictures.

The photographer takes a close-up portrait of beautiful girl model

Some of the girls came to the professional photographer to take pictures for the first time, are simply afraid of the camera. At this point, their only thought - "how do I look?". As a result, we will not fix a person's mood, and his reaction to the subject in our hands - the camera. Before she is in front of the mirror, trying to play, correspond to the image of the beautiful, which has established itself, which can only like it. She subconsciously changing expression to want to look better, but "better" in its own sense.

It has a big plus digital photographic technique - you can immediately show results. Model seeing himself in "his image" - realizes how ridiculous it looks, then listen more attentively to the words of the photographer. Before shooting, the photographer should clearly know that he wants to remove. Must have an outline of the future images in your imagination (and preferably also on paper) to the process of shooting not to bore poses unnecessary and no way of finding themselves either model.

Experiments with foreshortening


Portrait does not have to be boring, canonical. Do not be attached to a single point when shooting. The more often to change the camera position, the more interesting perspectives can be found.
Frozen in one position for a model - a guarantee of failure of a photo shoot. Do not be afraid to experiment. Sometimes that's a good picture of the session may be hiding in the unusual position of the camera, the model, the position of the light source, etc. Do not use a template model poses. Photo - this is an art form where every photographer should in some way to stand out among colleagues. Strive to create his own style.



Selecting the alternative crop portrait, watch the "correct cutting off the" arms, hands, legs and head. You can not cut off part of his hand or foot as shown in the photo. It is best not to cut palm/feet, and leave them whole. Legs permissible cut just above the knees, and hands - above the elbow. These rules does not always stick, but this is to be aware and pay attention to the layout of the frame. In this paper we choose the photographer also has information about this, there are examples of framing.

Air in the frame - the background line


The empty space in the frame can be a powerful compositional way. Get away from the "sandwiched" frames. When shooting a portrait in an outdoor setting, avoid passing the horizon lines and/or lines of architectural structures as it were, through the head of the model. Picking the angle, make sure that the head of the model is not growing, for example, electric pole or some contrast, in relation to the general background, the element of the architecture or scenery.

Look out of the camera


Opinion is not in the camera can be very advantageous, though, may not be as intimate as the direct gaze. When framing, try to leave space for the track view of the model.




Often, a person's personality is revealed in random frames. In the process of shooting, usually occur short pauses between the preparation of a frame, select the successful angle and/or position of chiaroscuro. But even in these times can not be too relaxed photographer, and always be on the alert, because you can miss a good shot.

Looking directly


Direct view, the call in the eyes may reveal model traits, show hidden emotions. Direct gaze can to win the audience, but may alienate. It should be considered when taking a portrait. But, again, it all depends on the ideas of a particular image, and also on what emotions should call a portrait of the audience.

Background in the studio

Photoshoot on a background looks boring. Background in the studio should be changed from time to time to the further processing could play fantasy, add different elements to the background image. If you are going to completely change the background in a photo, such as a landscape with green forest, in this case, it is advisable to use a green background in the studio for easier cutting in the editor. The use of a neutral gray background gives a good result as when you cut and when you set the white balance when converting c RAW. The walls in the studio should be a neutral color, so as not to blikovat photos unnecessary color.


Not necessarily have a large photo studio and expensive camera to shoot a frame that will make the viewer look at the picture delay. At one and the same picture different people look the same, but they see differently, adding something of himself in imagination dorisovyvaya invisible to others... Shooting portraits - this is the area of ​​the photo where the photographer can achieve their full potential is best to experiment with light, the model poses and angles taken. I wish you all more good pictures!

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  • Author: Andrey Ko

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