Oct 14 2006

Capturing a Smile

Published by at 8:39 am under Better Photos

One of the most popular kinds of photography is portrait photography. Even the most novice photographer with a one-time-use camera will probably find that many of the pictures on the film are of people. It’s simple-we all want to remember the important people in our lives, and pictures are a great way to do that. Portrait photography is also a lucrative business, since everyone from students to brides to families want to get their pictures taken. Portrait photography can be as simple or as advanced as you make it, but with a little practice, the end result can be something fabulous.

When you take a picture of a person, it can either be formal or informal, depending on the look you want. Formal pictures have the person looking right at the camera, posed for that purpose. When models show you a head shot, this is a formal portrait. Informal, on the other hand, means that the person is doing (or pretending to do) something else and does not know the photographer is capturing the moment. Many informal portraits are stages, but if you get the general sense that the photograph was taken without the subject matter’s knowledge, it is classified as informal. Both formal and informal portraits can be beautiful, so try to take a mix of both to see which one you like the best. Most studios shoot formal, but informal can make great portraits for this purpose as well.

If you want to shoot portraits professionally, you will need a studio and some good equipment. The most important aspect of portrait shooting is lighting-you need to produce just the right skin tones and highlights with an exterior light to get the results you want. One misplaced shadow could make a person look much older or create another negative effect of the picture. Remember, however, that lighting is not the only aspect of portrait photography. To be a true portrait, you not only have to get all the technical aspects correct, but you also need to portray something emotionally about your subject. This is where the creative part of you as a photographer comes into play.

Portrait shooting can be a challenge, because many times you will have to work with subjects who don’t particularly like their own appearance. Be understanding-it may be frustrating to delete good shots based on your subject’s opinion, but if you run a business, it is ultimately their call. Show them some shots in the middle of the shoot if possible and get feedback. You will learn this way what things about their body they don’t like and be able to save time by avoiding this in future shots. Hopefully you will find portrait shooting fun and exciting and be willing to put some time into your work to make it stunning.

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