A 101 Guide to Portrait Photography

  • 15 Mar, 2021
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(Image Courtesy: Neeta Shankar)

Portrait photography is often considered one of the most challenging genres of photography. On top of having a command over camera settings and shooting dynamics, portrait photographers also need to establish a connection with their subject. Pulling it all off successfully, therefore, requires hours of practice and rich experience, along with the knowledge of right techniques and tips. That’s what you exactly get when you take Nikon’s online photography classes. Learn from the veterans of the field and find out all there is to know about clicking stunning portraits. To help, in this blog post, we present a 101 guide to portrait photography. Read on.

Prepare your Subject

Portrait photography requires you to connect with your subject and make them feel comfortable. On top of it, you also have to get up-close with your subject and not everyone is comfortable being photographed at such a close distance. It, therefore, becomes necessary to prepare your subject prior to shooting. Ideally, your subject should be stress free, comfortable, and in their element to help you capture lively portraits. Speak with your subject, get them acquainted with the poses and the kind of stills you plan on capturing.

Pay Attention to the Background

When it comes to portrait photography, the background you choose is also as important as your subject. Avoid choosing busy backgrounds as they rob the attention from the subject. Aim for a neutral background without any clutter to ensure that your viewer will focus on your subject alone. That said, you do not always have to go for a simple plain background. While shooting street portraits at Night, try shooting on a widest aperture available on your lens. This will allow you to get crips and soft bokeh of lights in the background. You can, for instance, add rice lights in the background or shoot against a colourful backdrop for more depth.

Get the Pose Right

After getting your subject comfortable and picking a background that works well, you would next have to focus on helping your subject pose according to your requirements. Take some time to get your subject acquainted with the pose you want. During shooting, feel free to offer feedback and suggestions to get the pose right. Keep some reference shots handy to clearly communicate your ideas with the subject. You are not sure about what pose to get started with, you can have your subject lean into the camera for an engaging, lively appeal.

Ensure the Lighting is On Point

Lighting is one of the most crucial aspects of any genre of photography. When it comes to portrait photography in specific, it is advisable to work in a well-lit condition. In most cases, natural daylight is considered the best kind of lighting to capture portraits. While working under direct sunlight can produce harsh results, you can have your subject’s back towards the direction of sunlight for creating a backlight effect. Use a reflector to fill in light into shadows and create subtle catch light in the subject's eyes.An overcast day is also a great opportunity as it produces soft lighting that’s ideal for capturing portraits.

Choose a Shallow Depth of Field

Shooting in a shallow depth of field is perhaps one of the most common portrait photography tips out there. By doing so, you can get to place your subject against a background that is soft and blurred out, helping your subject stand out and receive complete attention from viewers. Adjusting the lens aperture helps you control the depth of field on your camera. Generally speaking, wider apertures produce greater blur in the background; so consider shooting with the largest aperture available in your lens.

Wrap Up

Clicking professional looking portraits doesn’t require you to invest in an expensive lighting setup or complex gear. A comfortable subject, favourable background, natural lighting, ability to work with your camera settings, and a strong foundation in basics of portrait photography can help you do a lot. If you are looking to improve your photography skills and learn new techniques from the best in the business, Nikon’s photography community www.CaptureWithNikon.in is the right place to be. Explore online Nikon photography classes and Behind the Lens photography stories shared by industry veterans where they offer insightful tips, suggestions, and techniques to help you improve your photography skills. To learn more, call 1800-102-7346 or fill out our contact form and we will take it from there.