Do you feel that the portraits you click lack an x-factor? That they are just no different than the hundreds that you had clicked before?
Don’t worry! It happens to most of us.
It once happened to me 5 years ago, when I had bought a brand new 85mm f1.8 lens for the first time.
I was amazed by the results!
I was a beginner and had a crop sensor DSLR back then. And due to its Crop Factor, the 85mm lens acted like a 135mm one. The subjects in my images looked really sharp and detached from the completely blurred background. Background lights became beautiful bokeh.
I was in love with this lens and had stopped using my kit lens completely.
One day I was simply going through the portraits gallery on my computer. I had probably used the 85mm for 3 or 4 months by then.
And to my disbelieve, all the images I had clicked in those 4 months were the same, i.e. a crystal clear subject detached from an extremely blurrrrrrrrred background. They had no difference other than the subject.
The portraits that I had clicked with my previous kit lens seemed more appealing.
Thus I realized that my portraiture had become monotonous. It was a lesson learned!
I know that a lot of photographers, mostly beginners, face a similar lack of variety and improvement when they click portraits. If you are one of them, then here are some tips for you to better your portraiture:
Play with Focal Length
Each focal length has something interesting to offer.
A 50mm focal length gives a proper natural eye view of the image and makes the subject very natural while some say that 35mm is a much better focal length instead(i personally feel it’s a tad bit wider). An 85mm adds more beauty to the subject. A 100mm focal length or more, make the subject appear larger than life and crystal clear in front of a blurry background. Check out the images below for a better understanding.
Change lenses. If you do not have another lens then borrow your friend’s. Or buy a new one if you can afford.
If you have a zoom lens, let’s say a 24-70mm lens, experiment with its focal range and get to know how different your portraits appear at different focal lengths. You will notice that a portrait clicked at 24mm will give a very different feeling from that clicked at 70mm.
Therefore, do not repeat my mistake by sticking to a single focal length like I got stuck with the 85mm lens. If you get a lens like that, use it and try to get the best out of the lens. But do not use just that for all the portraits you click.
Most of the portraits that everyone clicks are from a natural eye-height perspective.
Try to change that camera position. Maybe climb up somewhere and click your subject from a downward angle as seen in the above image; or from an almost top angle. Or you can bend down and point your camera upwards towards the subject. You’ll be seeing your subject from an angle that is bound to create interest.
Believe me, you will get some really amazing photographs by altering your perspective.
Compositing a frame a certain way for your portraits is one of the most basics of portraiture. But you can break the rules and compose in a creative manner. Here are some ways you can do that:
BREAK THE RULES
Rule of Thirds is a very basic rule used in photography. Though it works for most of the images, you can still click a beautiful(and sometimes even much better) portrait by breaking that rule.
You can put the subject on the dead center of the image and still get a pretty amazing portrait, like the image below.
You can also click a half portrait by framing half of the face on either of the 2 vertical edges of a photograph or you can crop half of the subject’s face later.
Another very famous rule in portrait photography is that Negative Space should be in the direction of subject’s vision as shown in the above image.
But again, you can break that rule and still get great portraits as seen in the above image.
ADD A PROP
Introduce a prop into your shot to create an added point of interest and enhance the image.
Yes, you may have the risk of taking the focus away from your primary subject by adding a prop but you can also have an opportunity to add a sense of story to your image that gives the subject an extra layer of depth and turns it in a new direction.
Environmental portraits are shot in a little wider focal length (<50mm) and composed by placing the subject around a relatable surrounding to suggest a situation.
These portraits make the viewer connect the pieces of information and understand the situation of the subject.
PART OF THE PICTURE
You can show a part of the story with some details instead of the whole story and the viewer’s mind will fill in the gaps and create an entire story with just those details.
You can also show a part of the subject’s body and evoke an emotion or a story like the below image.
You can start by noticing your subject and finding anything that other people might miss in that person. Did you find anything special? Like a unique piece of jewelry, a tattoo, or just a hole in their shoe.
USE OF CREATIVE LIGHTING
Another interesting element is light and that can be introduced in your portraits in a very creative manner. There are almost infinite ways that you can use light in portraits.
Light patterns will add drama to your subject.
FRAME WITHIN A FRAME
Using a frame within a frame is a great way to lead your viewers’ eyes into a photo. This can add depth and context, as well as drawing their attention to a defined point.
You will be amazed by the power of creative composition. Challenge your audience. Don’t be afraid to create a connection which is too complicated to understand.
In conclusion, always try to experiment with your creativity. Try to push your boundaries and create variety in your images. Make sure that the next portrait you click provides something new or different than the previous one and continue that process with each portrait you click.
Do you have more tips? Let us know in the comments section below.