Did you know that the first-ever portrait photograph was taken in 1839? It’s true! The first portrait photography session involving a human being was accomplished by a man named Robert Cornelius on a sunny day in Philadelphia. Since then, portrait photography, and photography in general, have come quite a long way. With cameras smaller, more advanced, and far more affordable than ever, professional photographers are sharing their skills all over the world.
In today’s discussion, we are going to explore a few modern ways you can maximize your portrait photography sessions to get the perfect shot. Whether you’re a photography newcomer or an experienced amateur, these simple portrait photography tips will help you become a pro behind the lens.
Find the Perfect Background
First and foremost, portrait shots are all about the subject at the center of your frame. There are many reasons to consider getting a portrait photoshoot scheduled, including for business and entertainment purposes. As a portrait photographer, it is important to understand what a client is looking for in their session so that you can select the proper background.
Backgrounds can change the very complexion of a photoshoot. A plain color background that is neutral and uncluttered will allow your subject to stand out. Take a look at this photo for an example of a candid shot. The background is more cluttered with signage and other people. A clean background would allow both subjects to pop off of the screen. As a candid photo, this is great; but a portrait picture it is not.
Help Prepare Your Subject
While all portraits will resemble one another in some semblance, they all take different sorts of preparation. The reasoning is simple: every subject that you photograph will have differing needs. A portrait photoshoot for an individual looking to update their resume will have distinct requirements different from, say, a child’s first portrait.
Most of the work for a portrait photography session is done before the camera ever comes out. Take time to talk and coach your clients through the different poses, techniques, and color options available. This is also a great time to get a feel for their comfort in front of the camera. Some photographers like to tell jokes to ease the tension while some subjects prefer music. It all depends on the subject.
Learn Your Lighting Requirements
Lighting is almost as important as camera quality when it comes time to take your first portrait photography session. An overcast day may provide soft light for an outdoor session, but it will also make the subject appear flat, sending harsh shadows across the face and that is not ideal.
Camera operators have two choices when it comes time to set up their lights: opt for a studio session or work with the lighting that nature provides. For outdoor sessions, consider shooting during the so-called Golden Hour for optimum conditions. Studio sessions should consider at least the installation of a fill light and a subject light to provide adequate coverage.