How to Take Better Portraits

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While portraits might seem easy, getting the best results can be difficult at time.  Follow these tips to get better portraits, instantly!

Take Better Portraits in Five Easy Steps

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1. Get close!

One of the easiest ways to take better portraits, is simply to close some distance.  I don’t recommend a zoom lens, but getting up close and personal with your subject.  This will enhance the dynamic between you and your subject, while also offering shots full of background details, and maybe even a little distortion.  These shots also convey a sense of immediacy or intimacy to your audience, with your subjects so close to the viewer.

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2. Go big.

With aperture, that is.  Use depth of field to make sure key areas of focus are tack sharp, and other parts of the image are murkier.  You can use a lens designed for this – something with a low f/stop of 2.8 or lower, or you can edit in post-processing to achieve the look artificially.  Either way, it won’t make a terrible photo good, but it will make good portraits better portraits.

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3. Capture the action.

Nothing adds more to the power of a portrait than a little action.  Blur movement or freeze it, and capture any kind of action.  Okay, so your subject isn’t an athlete.  Photograph them doing something they do every day.

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4. Lose the head.

Want to be a little more creative?  Start losing the head (or face) from your portraits.  Shoot from the neck down, or obscure the face of your subject.  Just because you aren’t showing the face, doesn’t mean you aren’t conveying the character of your subject.  And leaving things unseen can also add a sense of mystery.

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5. Experiment!

Never follow all the “rules” of photography.  The best way to take better portraits is simply to experiment with all the techniques you can think of.  Experiment with homemade filters, multiple exposures or stacked negatives, odd angles, and strange lighting setups.

Better portraits are easily obtainable when you start adding some of these techniques to your arsenal.  But don’t just follow my advice:  try everything you can think off and use what works for you.


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