How to make your photos portfolio ready, especially portrait photography
Analyze your best photographs
Specializing in one type of photography would necessitate that you choose your best photo shoots in that one category. Otherwise, choose the best of your photos from the categories that you are best at photographing.
Portrait photography is where the money is. Include your best people shots for sure. Practice taking portrait photos as much as possible. You'll never get as good as Annie Leibovitz if you don't. Your style will develop itself over time. The only way to be a great photographer is to take thousands and thousands of photos!
An entire portfolio of portrait shots is not uncommon. Best tips for any kind of photography and especially portrait shots:
- you must be able to connect with people almost instantly
- control your lighting and background - experiment with both
- be aware of shadows and how they will appear in the photo
- shoot from many different angles, not just the standard "mug shot"
- a person's eyes are the most important part of the shot
- learn the "rule of thirds" and practice using it.
- practice taking action shots - don't have your subject just stand there doing nothing
- use props and shoot candid shots
- get up close - REALLY close. 5 feet away is the maximum, unless you are doing landscapes.
- frame your subject - surround the central idea with something
- experiment with different lenses, exposures, timing and movement
- fill the frame in your camera with your subject - this is also known as cropping in camera
- shoot interesting subjects, not boring ones. If the subject isn't interesting on its own, then find a way to make it interesting!
Favorite portrait shot
A friend of mine from work wanted to have some photos of her children to enter in a local photo contest. She had seen my work and asked me if I would take the photo. Of course I would! Great practice for me and a fun thing to do for a friend.
The top photo is my favorite because it was natural lighting; it was candid; it focused on an interesting subject (mother and baby in a hammock); it had a great background; it focuses on their eyes and it was easy to fill the frame with the whole subject and still attend to the law of thirds.
The second portrait was the prize winning photo. Even though it's a pretty standard photo of children in a field of bluebonnets, it does have good color, background, and subject expressions.
The kids weren't too thrilled to be out in a field, but they were putting on brave faces. The blue jean jumpers were just right for setting off the bluebonnets and their faces. The photo has a little bit of "wow" factor and a lot of personality.
The requisite bridal photo
Women are always beautiful as a bride. It could be the culmination of joy, perfect makeup, awesome hair-do, incredible gown and the "glow" that shines on every bride's face.
If you want exceptional bride portraits, take them outside! Shoot in natural lighting with soft shades and reflections. Most bridal shots are vertical, so change the angle and shoot horizontally focusing on the face and eyes. That's where the action is.
Models need what they call "head shots". They are not always of their heads, of course. I will always try to take unusual shots of models. Any decent photographer can take a "head shot" and charge lots of money for it, but I want to try to capture something a bit more elusive than that.
This shot is an example of "depth of field" in a photo. It also captures motion. It appears as if the model is walking down a runway.
Depth of field is easily captured by posing a model on a pathway. The background always seems to be receding while making the subject seem to jump to the front of the photo. If you can find a pathway with a little curve in it at the back, so much the better.
This photo looks best in black and white and most models need some black and white shots available because black and white photography shows a lot of detail. In fact, most photographers practice many black and white shots just to focus on the details.
In today's world of photo editing software, you can shoot digital portraits in color and convert them to black and white with the click of a mouse, so spend some time thinking about how your shots will look in black and white.
Perspective and angles
One of the most interesting things you can do to improve your photography is to change the angle of a shot. Turn your camera horizontal, then vertical, then get on the ground or high above the subject. Shoot from the left, from the right, from behind.
Move around your subject or let the subject move around you. Don't take boring straight on photos (unless that is what you are after). Create some interest in your photos!
Whether you are shooting professionally or just for your own personal scrapbook or album, make your photos portfolio ready!
Types of Photography
What type of photography would you specialize in if you could?
© 2011 Lela