Art by Rebecca Barkley
Firstly I should just be clear that I’m not exactly a famous photographer, in fact I’m the complete opposite.. not famous. I haven’t taken any lessons or completed any courses, I’m all self taught. However, I’m not that bad.. or at least you can judge for yourself. If you like what you see then please read on..
I want to share with you a few basic tips I have learnt when taking portrait photos. You don’t need to spend a fortune on a kick arse DSLR camera to take great pictures, a simple point and shoot will do and just a few adjustments to your surroundings can make a huge difference.
As they say practice makes perfect, so if you have a pet or child handy they make great subjects. If not, self portraits rock too!
These are my top 5 tips for getting started:
Light – My number one tip is light! Avoid the flash, that artificial light is awful. Use natural light where you can, go outside, use a window, open the curtains. If you can’t use sunlight then light up the room best you can, or perhaps position your subject by a lamp – sometimes a simple light source can create a great picture too. My favourite light to use is the golden hour – as the sun rises or sets and everything outside glows, it’s magic!
Background – This is often overlooked, but take notice of your subjects background. Is there an odd toy in the way? Too much going on? Something bright coloured that distracts you? If you’re outdside maybe there’s a car or building that could be removed by simply moving the camera. Or perhaps you could choose your own background, like placing your subject in front of an interesting wall, a colourful plant, a beautiful view.
View – Consider the view or angle in which you are photographing. Are you standing up looking down? Perhaps you’re taking photos of your cat, try getting down to their level. Think outside the box, take photos from behind them, below them, eye level.. lie on your stomach if you have to, aim for something different.
Props – Have a play around with some fun props or dress ups if you want to make your photos more interesting. Try putting a hat on your subject, get them to blow bubbles, hold a bunch of flowers, a balloon, .. even better try and find something that suits them personally. Props can also help people to relax in front of the camera, especially if it means they don’t have to look at the lens.
Cropping – When we take a portrait usually the first thing we do is get a picture of the head and shoulders, or maybe a full head to toe picture of someone. Have a play with zooming right in and cropping out parts of them. You could crop out half their face, crop out their head to focus on their outfit, zoom in on their feet/paws/hands holding something. Portraits don’t always include a face so play around with different areas to photograph.
So that’s my top 5 tips to consider next time you take some happy snaps. Hope it helps! I’d love to hear your favourite tips if you want to leave them in the comments below.
Of course rules are made to be broken, especially in photography. In the end beauty is in the eye of the beholder so it depends on your taste and what you like – and of course when it comes to capturing memories you don’t have to stress too much about the artistic side of things, the main thing is to catch those precious moments in time.