26 February 2016

My 5 tips for portrait photography

Over the past two years portrait photography has become very important to me. There is something about taking photographs of people that I find truly special; the connection I build with them during a photowalk is rewarding as much as the photographs I get in the end. A big part of my love for portrait photography was born with the Lomography Petzval; no other lens I use has such a distinctive style.

After a bit of thinking, I have finally decided to share with you my 5 tips for portrait photography; I hope you will find them useful! Do you have other tips to share?

At the beginning of a photowalk I hardly ever start shooting right away; I always take some time to get to know my subject and make them feel at ease, even when taking portraits of a friend. I also try to make the subject familiar with my equipment; explaining the basics of how my Petzval works creates a better understanding between us.
Once the subject is feeling more at ease, use the first few images to study them even further; try to understand which pose they can hold more naturally, which side of their face they prefer, how daring they are in front of the camera. That will help you to guide them through the photo session.
Even though the subject of a portrait is the person, it is important to pay attention to the background as well. When shooting with my Petzval, I choose a background with many details, like the leaves of a tree or a rock with texture. Placing the subject a few steps away from the background will help you get the swirly bokeh.
When taking portraits outdoors it is important to make the most of the light condition you get; if there’s little light, make sure it illuminates that part of the subject that you rather emphasize. On the other hand, if the light is too strong, be careful not to get undesired shadows on the subject’s face.
Set your lens between the maximum aperture to 2.8 at most; that will increase the bokeh effect and detach your subject from the background. As for the speed, make sure it is never slower than 1/125; you are taking photographs of a person who most likely won’t be able to stand completely still.

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