Portrait Photography Tips

Portrait Photography Techniques

Digital portrait photography techniques vary depending on how much equipment you have at hand. Anyone can take portraits with a digital camera. Most cameras have a portrait mode so you just set the camera to portrait mode and you can't go wrong!

Not quite correct, a good portrait photographer will always try to capture at least some element of the subject's personality, attitude, or any some feature or traits. Ideally your final digital portrait will tell us something about the subject or reflect their personality. So here is my first portrait photography tip - try to get to know a bit about the subject before you start shooting.

If you are going to take a portrait photo of a couple start off by getting them to look at each other, then get one to give the other a kiss on the cheek, and then try a photograph of them touching noses and so on. With family portraits the idea is to make them seem as natural as possible to produce the best results. If they have a pet dog or cat, get them to hold it or include it in the photograph.

Choose the best camera for portraits

portrait photography tips - model

Another important tip in digital portrait photography techniques is to try and get the best camera you can afford. While as a general rule of thumb, the more expensive the camera the more likely it is to take great portraits you can still take great pictures with cheap point and shoot cameras given the correct light and good situation. That's why today, it is not unusual for keen photographers to have more than one camera.

If you are thinking about doing portrait photography seriously it's a good idea to use a DSLR and a good portrait lens. Prime lenses are the sharpest but they can be a bit limiting in terms of framing the subject. A prime lens can usually be stopped down to F1.4 or F2.8 to give a good bokeh (where the background is out of focus). This sometimes results in the subject not being in the sharpest focus. Many professionals use a fuzzy background to achieve the same effect and then setting the camera lens to the sweet spot to give the sharpest focus on the subject. A good zoom lens allows you to frame the subject and by choosing a focal length like 80 or 100mm achieve a slightly out of focus background.

Flash and portraits

If you are shooting in a studio environment you will probably want to have a master and a slave flash. The flash should bounced to avoid harsh shadows and blown highlights. Having said that the modern DSLR with its TTL flash allows you to acceptable pictures without bouncing the flash.

Practice makes perfect or so the saying goes, and as far as digital portrait photography technique goes another tip is - the more practice you can get the better will be your results. If your camera has a macro mode or if you're lucky enough to have a purpose built lens practice taking close up pictures of flowers or small inanimate objects.

Baby Portraits

The biggest challenge in portrait photography of babies or photographing small children is finding a good angle to shoot from. Here are a number of tips that you might want to try to help improve your portrait photography technique with babies.

With baby and children portraits while the studio environment guarantees the perfect exposure, with a good background, it's always a trial to get the children in a natural pose. Often your best kiddie shots will be captured when they least expect it, playing, running around, eating, or watching TV.

portrait photography tips - baby

The key to capturing natural baby photos is to get down on their level but this does present some challenges so it is important to choose the right lens usually a 24-105 zoom. This is almost the perfect zoom lens for child portraits. It gives the impression you have entered the babies world rather than looking down at the baby from above.

This important portrait photography tip makes your baby shots seem more intimate by getting close enough by zooming in rather than infringing on the babies personal space. While you are crawling around on the floor trying to capture that perfect baby picture get mum to stand in the back ground and make the baby smile or laugh - most parents will know how to do this.

Try shooting from number of positions and remember that the baby or child is not the only potential subject - parents, grandparents, and toys all can add context to the shot and you'll appreciate having more than just baby.