Portraits are one of the most popular photography genres. Selfies, pictures of family/friends, and snapshots of strangers get posted every day on social media. How can you make your portraits stand out from the rest? To increase the impact of your portraits, try out the following 5 tips.
1. Change Your Perspective
Perspective is one of the first things to consider when taking photos. The most typical perspective is face-to-face, holding the camera at eye level. But there are so many other options. Why not drop to one knee? Or lay down on the floor? Or shoot from above? The same principle holds true for posing. Mix up posture, seating, and composition. You’re only limited by your subject’s comfort level.
2. Create a Candid Look
Portraits look best when they look genuine. Unfortunately, candidness can be hard to create with posed portraits. One trick is to have the model look away from the camera. For example, there might be something interesting for the model to watch, like a wedding. For portraits with multiple people, simply ask them to look at each other. Even if it’s awkward at first, staring at another person turns into genuine laughter and smiles faster than just staring at a camera.
3. Try a Different Lens
The ‘standard’ lens for portraits tends to be a 50mm to 85mm, but why not try a 24mm? Of course, there will be some distortion of your subject’s features, but that might actually make the portrait more striking. For instance, if the model held her hand out, it would appear much larger and give the image a different feel. It might be exactly what you’re looking for.
4. Use a Prop
If you get a creative block, sometimes all you need is a good prop. It can be as small and simple as a pencil, or as big and unusual as a water hose. In general, people love playing with things. This playfulness will make the photo more candid and bring out your model’s personality,
5. Ignore the Face
Not focusing on the face can help you think out of the box. You don’t have to hide the face entirely–though that worked for Patty Maher. You just have to place your attention (and the viewer’s attention) on a different part of the body. For example, if your model has beautiful hair, you could get a few shots of her face turned away, hidden by her hair.
Likewise, don’t limit yourself to the front of the body. A person’s back can express their personality, too. Like all photography, you won’t know until you experiment.
We hope you found the tips above for capturing portraits useful. They’re meant to serve as a general guideline when you find yourself stuck on a shoot or lacking inspiration. If you’d like to narrow your focus and dive deeper into specific posing tips, our friends at Adorama have compiled a collection of go-to poses and tips for photographing females, as well as another for posing males. Be sure to check those out. The above photos were selected from our Flickr group. Next time you take an eye-catching portrait, share your photo with the group so we can admire your work!