Some simple portrait photography tips to improve your portrait photography skills:
Focal length – Try to use a longer focal length, i.e. stand back and zoom in, this is more flattering. Above 50mm is OK, 85mm is ideal. You should be able to do this on both compact and SLR cameras.
The background – Pay attention to this. You don’t want things looking like they are poking out of heads. Look for a non-distracting background and blur this by using a large aperture, low f stop. You’ll need your camera to be on aperture priority for this, or the portrait setting should do it
Light – Try to avoid strong direct sunlight as it creates shadows. If you can’t avoid this use your flash to lighten the shadows. In sunlight have the subject facing away from the sun and use flash to light the face. Cloudy days are good for taking photos of people as the light is nice and even, shade is good too. If indoors try using the light from a window or even a small lamp. Direct on camera flash can be harsh so try to bounce it off the ceiling if you can. Have light hit the face at an angle rather than straight on.
Posing – Get people to put their weight on the back foot, and put the other foot slightly forward which give a more relaxed pose. Chin slightly down and head pushed slightly forwards. If it can bend, bend it, but avoid symmetry, i.e. bend the arms at different angles. Turn the body at an angle to the camera. For groups avoid rows of heads, try to get heads at different heights.
These simple tips should improve your portrait photos.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out our portrait photography workshop.