Easy Tricks to Take Your Portraits to the Next Level
I’ve shared before that I’m a landscape photographer first and a portrait photographer second. That means that I know the challenges that portrait photography presents to those of us that aren’t naturally inclined for portraiture. But just because I have a better eye for landscapes than portraits doesn’t mean that I can’t take awesome portraits. The same holds true for you, too.
It’s really just a matter of recognizing a few things that you can do to elevate the quality of your images. Here’s a few portrait photography tips that will help you do just that.
How to Take Better Portraits: Pay Attention to Framing
When people think of framing, I think they most often think instead about perspective. And while the perspective from which you shoot is certainly an important part of framing up a quality portrait, it’s not the only aspect of framing that requires your attention. Where many portraits go wrong (in my opinion, anyway) is that the model is positioned in the frame in a way that diminishes the quality of the shot.
Sometimes this takes the form of the model being smashed to one side of the image with way too much negative space on one side, as shown above. Other times, the model doesn’t have any room to look into. This framing error makes the shot feel cramped, even if the rest of the image is relatively free of details.
Another problem is that sometimes photographers don’t position their models within the physical environment in a way that maximizes the look of the shot. In other words, framing a great portrait is all about understanding how your model interacts with other elements in the shot. In the example above, notice how the photographer used the car on the left and the bridge on the right as a way to frame the model inside the image.
By placing her in the space between these two features, you help viewers focus their attention more on the model, the result of which is a stronger portrait.
Use Angles to Create a More Powerful Statement
Another easy way to improve the quality of your portraits is by using one of the easiest portrait photography techniques there is – shoot upward towards the model.
This does a number of things for your portraits…
First, it helps eliminate the foreground in the shot, which, if you’re shooting in a location that doesn’t provide much interest in the foreground is a good thing. Second, shooting up towards the model also helps eliminate the background. What you don’t want in your portraits is for the details in the background to compete for the viewer’s attention with the model. Again, this is advantageous if the background isn’t very attractive, either.
Lastly, taking a low point of view and shooting up towards the model makes them look much more powerful in the shot. It accentuates the height of the model and gives them a more commanding presence in the scene, as shown above. It’s also good to vary the eye level from which you shoot, as most portraits aren’t taken from a low perspective. Doing so will help your images stand out from the crowd.
One of the Best Tricks for Better Portraits
It’s one thing to take a great portrait in-camera. It’s another thing to complete it by processing the image and creating a great print. For me, this is the step that most photographers miss. Instead of taking the time to fine-tune their images in post-processing and actually printing the photo, I think too many of us slap a few presets on our photos and post them on social media.
There’s just something more special about having prints of your portraits made, particularly if they’re top-shelf prints like those from CanvasHQ. I’ve used these guys many, many times (as you can see above!), and the quality of the prints never ceases to amaze me. It’s so satisfying to create a great shot and then see it in real life in a form that I can touch! It helps that CanvasHQ is dedicated to the process of making each of their canvases as perfect as possible.
That’s thanks in large part to the fact that they’re a family-owned business that’s committed to making each customer feel like a part of the family. That’s also thanks to their use of fine materials to create your prints, from top-of-the-line inks to poly-cotton blend canvas to kiln-dried artist-quality wood for their frames.