Preserving memories is very important. Good pictures can help you do that. Few items are more cherished than portraits of beloved friends and family members. The problem is that professional portraits tend to be expensive—beyond the reach of some of us. And when you try to make portrait shots yourself, you soon discover that far more is involved than just pointing and shooting. This is because a good portrait includes not only the subject but also the lighting, the background, the setting, the pose, the facial expression, and the colour. These are a few tips for taking good pictures.
Get Your Subject To Smile
Make sure that your subject is in the mood to be photographed. If they are tired or hungry, they will be difficult to work with. Besides, fatigue will cause tension in their face and eyes, which will detract from the picture. So encourage them to take a nap and have a light snack before the photo session begins. It also helps to interact with the person. Be upbeat and cheerful.
Posing the Subject
Have your subject face the camera in a relaxed position, either sitting, standing, or reclining, but turned slightly to the side. If the face seems too round, have the model turn the head or body slightly so that only half the face is illuminated. Pay particular attention to the hands. They should seem relaxed and should be in a position that is natural for your subject, such as resting gently on the chin or the side of the face. If the person is standing, avoid the all-too-common mistake of having the arms hang by the side with the hands pointing straight down. It’s better to have the hands holding something or resting in a natural pose.
Dress and Grooming
In group portraits, colour harmony is desirable. If, for example, you are taking a picture of a family, suggest that they wear compatible colours. Or perhaps have them all wear the same colours. Remember, though, that large people look best in dark colours and that thin people look best in light colours.
People who wear Glasses
Because of glare, this can be a problem. First, look through your viewfinder to see if there is any unwanted glare. If so, have the subject turn the head slowly until the reflection moves away from the centre of the eye or disappears.
A busy background will only detract from your photo. So look for a background that might enhance or add interest to your subject. If you can’t find an attractive background, try putting the background out of focus. This works best in outdoor portraits where you can place the subject at a distance from the background.
You might try seating the subject on a chair or a sofa in front of a light-coloured wall or an indoor plant. It is particularly interesting to portray the individual at work or engaged in a favourite hobby or activity.
Late afternoon is the best time to take outdoor photographs. The air is usually calm, and the colour of the light is warmer. Indoors, you can use natural light by posing your subject next to a window. A sheer curtain can serve to diffuse the light. If there isn’t enough light you’ll have to use a flash.
It will take some trial and error to get good results. However, with careful planning and attention to detail, you can, even with the simplest of cameras, create a good portrait, one that will preserve good memories for years to come.