If you’re a photographer or an aspiring one, you’ll definitely take a portrait or two in your career. While you may have the technical knowledge to take great photos, capturing the essence of your subject through portrait photography goes beyond knowing the right white balance, type of lens, etcetera. To take an amazing portrait, here are three things that you need to practice:
- Create a connection with your subject.
Capturing portraits with your camera is one of the most intimate forms of photography. You’re not only taking a picture of your subject—you’re also capturing their essence. This is why, if you have the opportunity, you should meet up with your subject before the shoot day. Get to know them better. Ask them questions and take note of their answers. You want to create a connection with them so you can understand who they really are. By doing so, you have an idea of how to best represent their essence through picture. When shoot day comes, the connection you make with your subject will also help them become more comfortable, which is important if you want to take pictures that look natural and not forced.
- Don’t be still—move around.
As the photographer, even though you’re taking a portrait and the subject is mostly holding a pose, you still want to make each picture look dynamic. You can do this by moving around and taking photos from different angles. Don’t be afraid to come forward and take a picture of your subject from a close angle—a close up might even reveal a feature of your subject’s face that’s both interesting and fascinating. At the same time, you can experiment with your angles. Get on the floor. Ask them to tilt their head and take a picture from above. Do whatever it takes to get the portrait that best captures the essence of your subject’s identity. At the same time, don’t limit your subject with a few poses. You can collaborate and ask them which angle they think looks best on them. A collaborative process will also help the subject become more comfortable during the shoot.
- Capture the eyes through your lenses.
In portrait photography, one of the most important elements of the picture is your subject’s eyes. People say the eyes are the windows to a person’s soul. And, since you’re trying to capture the subject’s essence, it only makes sense to highlight their eyes in your portrait. Help them connect with the camera. Give them guidance on how to speak to the camera with their eyes. It will surprise you on how different each picture you take will look if the client changes the way they stare. Note, however, that not all the best portraits have the subject staring right at the camera. It’s also possible to take a picture where the subject is looking away and still have a portrait that best represents who they are.
Hopefully, with these three practices, you’ll be able to take a great portrait of your subject. As a last tip, think of yourself as an artist. You’re holding the medium—your camera—which you will use to paint your subject with. How are you going to use this medium to give justice to the beautiful person standing right in front of you? Stay true to their essence and capture it as best as you could.