Photographing people is the most popular form of photography today. Everyone takes shots of family and friends, but the majority of portraits end up poorly exposed, out of focus, and in the trash can. .
A successful portrait photograph should capture a person’s character and reveal something about their personality. A good portrait must be exposed correctly, with warm skin tone colours. The focal point of a good portrait image should be the eyes. This is the area of the face you must focus on accurately.
The eyes must be one hundred percent sharp to draw the viewer into the image. By choosing an aperture of F/8 or smaller and shooting at least three feet away from the subject you should create a depth-of-field to bring all parts of the face into good focus.
If you have a keen interest in portrait photography the potential to earn some extra cash or even set up your own studio is endless.
The equipment needed to get successful portrait images is basic. A standard 35mm camera is perfect. Cameras that use film are better than digital; portrait film allows you capture warmer skin tones. Digital cameras have their own advantage but the cost of having an up-to-date digital darkroom can be immense.
Once you have chosen your camera the next piece of equipment you need is a lens; lenses should have a focal length of between 85 mm and 135mm. They also permit you to fill the frame from a reasonable distance and help reduce perspective distortion, which I will cover in more detail in part 3.
Here is a list of equipment worth considering:
Exposure meter - this will help in calculating exposure
Cable release - is used to minimise camera movement
Studio lights - one studio light will do, but if you have more the effects can be a lot greater.
Reflector - this will be used to bounce light.
Now that you have your equipment, your next step is dealing with people.
Most people become tense in front of the camera - this is natural and the job of a portrait photographer is to make sure this doesn’t affect the final print. A tense subject will lead to a poor dull image that no one will want to buy.
The key to creating a good portrait is having a relaxed subject - this may be achieved by talking to the subject while shooting the portrait. If this doesn’t work play some music - people react to different kinds of things. Psychology plays an important part in the work of a portrait photographer and the younger the subject the harder it is to get a result.
TJ Tierney is an award winning Irish Landscape photographer. For more tips you can visit his photography site. To view his images visit his on-line gallery of flower pictures or see his travel site.