Portrait photography tips can run the gamut from simple tweaks to your camera settings to the seemingly impossible task of getting a large group in a wedding to look the same direction.
Although many photographers upgrade to a decent DSLR to give them more control when they take family portraits or pictures of friends, getting great shots of people is always a challenge. And one should ask, do I want a “snapshot” or do I want a professional looking photograph.
The difference between amateur and professional portraits can be vast, and opinion, and quite subjective – depending on who you ask of course. So here is a short list of the series to come of some of the most important portrait photography tips for any photographer to know. I mean amature to professional – though the professional should already be at this point.
First, I want to begin with the basics on aperture, shutter speed and ISO, then I will move on to focusing and photo composition techniques, before showing you how to use natural light and reflectors to improve your results.
In a future post, I will discuss some of the more advanced portrait photography tips, such as using a strobe outside and the like.
Whether taking pictures or portraits of your friends or you are going to photograph a family, the advice below will help you become a better portrait photographer.
1. When to use Exposure Compensation
Your camera’s metering system plays a vital role in picture-taking. It works out how much light should enter the camera to make a correct exposure. It’s very clever, but it’s not completely foolproof. The problem with metering is that it takes an average reading – either of the entire frame or part of it, depending on which metering mode you’re in – and this reading is assumed to be a midtone, or in other words, halfway between white and black.
More often than not this assumption comes out right, but a metering system can struggle when a frame is dominated by areas of extreme brightness or darkness.
When shooting portraits, light skin tones can easily trick the camera into underexposing the shot. You’ll notice this more when shooting full-face photos or when there’s lots of white in the scene – brides at weddings are a prime example.