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Portrait Photography Tips: Capturing Stunning Images

All budding photographers, as well as those who have been shooting for a while, are looking for the same thing. They want to take stunning photos that capture the “wow” factor. It is not an easy thing to do as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. However, it is not impossible and more than following rules, sometimes it is necessary to break them. Be random and boldly follow your instincts to find that one special image that makes everyone stop and take notice.

1. Change perspective – Almost all portraits are taken with the camera at eye level. Change perspective by changing the angle you’re shooting from. Get up high above your subject for an effect. From that perspective, you can see an even more interesting aspect. Experiment with your composition.

2. Play with the eyes – Eye contact or the direction in which the eyes are looking greatly affects the effect of the portrait. Looking directly into the camera is not always the most interesting way to photograph someone. It may be more intriguing to have the subject look to the side, drawing viewers into the shot to wonder what is there, off-camera, unseen. But be careful how you do this, as drawing the viewer’s eyes to the side also draws them away from your subject.

3. Stay focused within the frame – In other words, having your subject hold an object, such as a woman holding a baby, or a child holding a toy, keeps viewers’ eyes focused within the frame and on the subjects. It creates a second point of interest and helps create a story within the frame with the subject.

4. Composition rules – The composition rules listed in portrait photography tips are meant to be followed and broken. Rules are great to know and use, but stretching or pushing them to the outer limits makes portrait art more interesting. Learn the rules, get comfortable using them, then learn to break them for a more eye-catching result.

5. Experiment with lighting – The possibilities are endless with lighting. The only thing stopping you is your imagination and your ability to be creative. There is no good and bad. So go ahead and play with the lighting. You may surprise yourself. Sidelight, backlight, silhouette, the possibilities are endless.

6. Make the subject move – Interesting portraits happen when you push your subject out of their comfort zone. Make them move. Put them on clothing or in an environment where you wouldn’t normally find them. Surround them with things that say who they are, but make them react differently. For example, put them in business clothes in an office, but have them jump up and down or read a book backwards. Once again, be creative.

7. Do not stage the photo – Taking candid shots is better than posing your subject. People, and children in particular, tend to tense up and hide rather than reveal their personality when the image is staged and they are asked to pose. Shoot your subjects at work or children at play. Try to catch them by reacting naturally to their surroundings.

8. Using accessories – Enhance your shot by creating another point of interest with a prop. For example, if you shoot a doctor, let him use a stethoscope or hold a skull. Be careful not to let the prop dominate the image, let it be part of the image and tell part of the story.

9. A part of the whole – Try to focus on one part of the whole, for example, instead of photographing the subject’s head and shoulders, take a photo or two of their hands, or their back, or maybe even a shoulder with a special tattoo, keeping the face in shadow Be dramatic and bold. Sometimes what’s left out of the shot is just as important as what’s inside.

10. Variation on a theme – Hiding the theme to focus on a particular aspect also works well. In other words, wrapping a woman in a shawl leaving only her eyes visible and looking at the camera. Possibly match the shawl to the subject’s eyes for a dramatic color statement.

The possibilities of taking creative and dramatic photographs are only limited by your ability to think outside the box. Know the rules, know how to work with them, and then learn how to break them for a more creative effect. Lastly, take a series of shots…not just one…fire often and fast…sometimes to get what you want.

I hope these portrait photography tips have been helpful to you.

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