Taking better portraits doesn’t have to be complicated.
In fact, with a few simple portrait photography tips, you can improve the quality of the portraits you take almost immediately!
All you need to do is a little planning, work on the wardrobe, and help the model relax in front of the camera.
Let’s explore each of these tips in more detail.
Scout the Location
If you’re shooting indoors, then scouting the location becomes much easier.
However, outdoor shoots are another story…
Not only do you need to consider what the weather is like and the time of day you’ll be shooting, but you also need to think about when you’ll find the best light of the day (it’s right after sunrise and right before sunset) and what the background looks like.
Sure, the background in a portrait isn’t the primary focus of the shot, but if it’s distracting in some way – say, there’s intense areas of light and shadow, then your portrait will have a problem.
Instead of the focus being on your model, viewers will be distracted by the contrast in the background. Distractions can occur because of colors that are too intense, textures or patterns that are too bold, and backgrounds that are ugly don’t help, either.
So, when scouting a location outdoors, find a place that ticks all the boxes.
You want a background that’s beautiful, yet not distracting and that offers you high-quality light, like the photos shown above.
Watch What They Wear
Much like the background, the wardrobe selections for the portraits you take should support the idea that the model is the focus of the shot, not distract attention from them.
That means avoiding things like bold patterns, clothing that has recognizable labels, and ill-fitting clothing as well.
For example, in the image above, the model’s gown is an eye-catching element that helps draw attention to her.
The color offers beautiful contrast with the rest of the image, and the deeply saturated color is a nice juxtaposition with the softer tones elsewhere in the shot.
There’s another way that the wardrobe selection can help support the model as the primary subject – movement.
Contrary to the first image, in this one, the model’s gown doesn’t contrast with the colors in the shot.
Instead, there’s gorgeous movement as the gown catches the wind, adding an interesting dynamic to the photo.
In both cases, though, the wardrobe selections add interest and elegance to the portrait, which helps elevate the quality of the shot.
If you take portraits of expecting mothers, young ladies or newborns, outfit them with the highest quality clothing to get the most pleasing look. Shop maternity, young ladies, and newborn collections here.
Distract the Model for a Natural Look
It might sound counterintuitive to distract your portrait subject while you’re taking their photo, but trust me, it works.
And this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to point off-camera and exclaim, “Look at that!”
Instead, if you can do something as simple as engaging the model in conversation, it can help them relax in front of the camera.
If small talk doesn’t work, do something silly. Tell a joke. Ask them to tell a joke. Have them think of their most embarrassing moment.
Whatever you can do to lighten the mood and get them thinking about something other than the sound of your shutter will help your portraits immensely, as you can see in the images above.