Photo Feature: Portraits
I have to be honest, portrait photography is not really my thing, but I thought it was worth covering as I know a lot of people enjoy taking portraits (particularly of family and friends)… So here are some tips and ideas to help you take great portraits:
Probably the first thing you need to think about is the style of portrait you want to capture… are you wanting studio type portraits or casual ones? What equipment you will need will depend on what style you are going for…
For this type of shot, really all you need is your camera (or phone)… but you do need to be ready to shoot when the opportunity arises, as once the moment is gone, you’ve missed it – I speak from experience! But you can get some fabulous candid portraits wherever you are…
However, if you are wanting to take candid portrait shots when you are out and about… of your children for example, it’s worth bearing in mind the following points:
- You will still need good lighting to get a decent photo.
- You need to think about the background – a great shot can be ruined by something in the background that shouldn’t be there. (Although it is possible to remove any blights on your image afterwards using editing software.)
- Remember to set a shallow depth of field in order to blur the background so it doesn’t distract from the subject of the shot… in this case the person whose portrait you are taking.
For more formal portraits, you may need to think about a studio set up, even if it’s only a makeshift one in your home… they are fairly easy to set up and a basic lighting kit is only around £250. It takes a bit of practice to get the lighting right, so get a willing volunteer to sit for you so you can try your kit out and get the exposure right.
To take good studio style portraits there are a few bits of photography equipment that you will need (as well as your camera of course!):
- A tripod
- A decent lighting set up, including soft boxes/reflectors
- A suitable backdrop (usually quite plain so as not to distract from the subject)
- A handheld reflector (though this is only of any use if you have someone to hold it up for you whilst you take the shots)
- A remote shutter release is helpful so you can look at your subject whilst taking the shot – this is particularly important with very young children as keeping eye contact can stop them from fidgeting and ruining the photos.
And my favourite style of portrait – abstract! As you’ve probably gathered, I’m not a big fan of traditional portraits, I find them a bit dull if I’m being totally honest! I prefer my portraits to be a bit more unusual…
And the great thing about abstract portraits is that really anything goes… just play around with angles, colours, light, backdrops, etc and have fun with it!
And I couldn’t not mention the infamous selfie now could I, lol! Probably the most popular style of portrait nowadays, made famous by good old Instagram! I don’t mind the occasional selfie, but I dislike it when someone’s feed is made up entirely of selfies – yawn! If I’m going to take a selfie I try to at least make it a little bit different…
I hope you found my ideas helpful! Do you enjoy portrait photography? If so, what’s your favourite style? Let me know below…