How to make a good portrait photo

Anastasia Sergeeva
12.10.2015

How to make a good portrait photo?

A portrait photo is not the simplest direction for photography, because a person is not a static still life or landscape, he is constantly changing, and it is not easy to capture the moment and find the same angle to present the model in the best way. Shooting portraits will require patience and skills from you, but for a start, learn the basics - it's not at all difficult.

Choice of technology

One of the most popular questions that immediately arises from everyone who wants to learn how to photograph - is it necessary to have expensive professional equipment for photographing? And the truth, as is usually the case, is in the middle.

Photo equipment

An expensive camera will not automatically make anyone a professional photographer, just as a good photo remains good regardless of whether it was made with a SLR or film camera, or even a camera on a mobile phone.

But on the other hand, the possibilities of mobile and compact digital technology in comparison with cameras of a higher class are significantly limited.And to claim a professional level, taking a portrait photo on the digital "soap box", in general, it is not.

Hence the conclusion that the highest quality portrait photo begins with the acquisition of a SLR camera, but do not be afraid to completely go bankrupt - many popular photo equipment manufacturers have special lines of low-budget cameras, just for beginners.

Light and time of shooting

Beginning photographers mistakenly believe that portrait photography should be done when there is more sun on the street. In fact, the bright midday light directed at the model contributes to the appearance of ugly shadows and glares on the face, directed against it - creates a large shadow on the model, and the background makes it too light.

Gold watch shooting

Hiding among the trees is also not the best option: a loose shadow from the leaves will make your model's face spotty, and a dense shadow, on the contrary, may turn out to be too dark for shooting. Therefore, it is best to take pictures during the sunset and after dawn hours, as well as on a moderately cloudy day.

In some cases, it is necessary to resort to artificial lighting.With the help of such lighting, you can give a picture a volume or make it completely flat, emphasize both the merits of a person and his disadvantages.

Portrait lighting

There are six main sources of light that can lead to completely different results and sometimes change the model's face beyond recognition.

  1. Frontal light falls on the person being photographed exactly in front. Such light illuminates the face of the model well, makes it flat and deprives the relief - the same type of passport-like photograph.
  2. The front side light moves to the left side of the camera and rises quite a bit above the model. It gently emphasizes the contours of the face, illuminates both its sides and does not create particularly dark gaps - this type of lighting can be considered the golden mean when choosing light for a portrait photo.
  3. The hard side light stands directly on the side of the model and divides its face into two halves: one brightly shines, and the other leads into the shade. This type of lighting adds drama to the photograph and is often used when shooting male portraits.
  4. Overhead light is located directly above the model. He creates strong shadows under the nose and chin, "fails" the eyes.
  5. Lower light can turn your portrait photo into a scarecrow - it falls on the model from below and unusually casts a shadow over the nose and cheeks, making the face look like a skull.
  6. A back light source is placed right behind the model. Due to this, only the background remains illuminated, and the model completely disappears into the shadow and turns into a silhouette.

Photo Composition

The construction of the composition of the photograph should be given no less attention than the lighting and posture of the model.

One of the most basic rules that applies not only to the composition of a photo, but also when drawing portraits and works in other genres is the rule of thirds. It consists in conditionally dividing the frame into thirds by means of two vertical and two horizontal lines, which form nine separate zones and four points of intersection. It is within these points that the main accents of the photograph should be located.

Rule of thirds in portrait

The portrait photo is portrait and that the main emphasis in it is placed on the image of a person, and therefore the background of the photo should not distract the viewer from the model. Carefully check to see if any extra objects fall into the frame and whether it turns out that, for example, a branch from a tree sticks out of the body of the person being portrayed.

If you cannot avoid the distracting motley background, make it an advantage by setting the shooting mode to aperture priority, which will allow you to achieve a small depth of field and blur the background in the form of an interesting texture.

Texture background in portrait

Do not be afraid to fill the frame with a model and take a closer look - this is a portrait photo, not a landscape. However, when approaching, it is better to use the lens zoom, and not to hang directly in front of the model, so that the perspective of the image is not distorted when shooting, and it does not turn out to be convex or elongated.

Shooting at eye level is not always possible to achieve the best result, so try to take pictures, changing the angle. Sometimes it is only necessary to move a little to the left or to the right, to take a picture from a sitting position or to rise a little higher than the model, as your portrait photo will play with new colors.

Pay particular attention to how you will crop a portrait photo. You should not cut the picture on the fingers, crooked joints, hairline and lines of the extremities portrayed. It is ugly to leave in the frame only the face without the beginning of the neck, or only the face and neck without a hint of shoulders; under the ban and framing clearly along the line of the belt and bikini.

Photo framing rules

Watch out for the horizon line - besides the fact that it should not be overwhelmed, it should not cross your model along the same forbidden framing lines.

If a person in the frame looks or moves in some direction, then for a photo it is worth leaving a little more space on this side.

Do not forget - in the portrait focus should be on the eyes of a person.

The choice of posture and angle

Pay attention to the model's turn in 45 degrees in the direction of the camera, that is, half-turn - this angle is considered the most advantageous for a portrait photo.

Perspective model

Except in rare cases, it is better to take a model's hands with something, so that it does not stand like a soldier. You can use props, give a person a book, a ball, or other photo that matches the mood.

Most importantly, the posture of the model was natural and relaxed. Hands should not be tense. Check that the person does not slouch, does not lift the shoulders, and the neck is not drawn in.

Group portrait

When shooting a group portrait photo, make sure that there are no large pieces of free space between people. Higher people put back, and small ones forward; if a portrait photo requires people to be taken in a single line, then either a small person should be placed in the center or left at the edge.

Remember, a universal pose for a photo does not exist, and what is suitable for one person can absolutely spoil another, depending on his body size, height, features of the face and figure.

Portrait of a girl

We hope our tips will help you figure out how to photograph people correctly and finally start practicing. Go ahead, save your relatives and friends from the domination of selfies and give them good portraits!


Take it to yourself, tell your friends!
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  • How to make a good portrait photo

    How to make a good portrait photo

    How to make a good portrait photo

    How to make a good portrait photo

    How to make a good portrait photo

    How to make a good portrait photo

    How to make a good portrait photo

    How to make a good portrait photo

    How to make a good portrait photo

    How to make a good portrait photo

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