Portraits are more than just pictures of people; they capture a subject’s emotion and a viewer’s attention. An especially powerful portrait can stop someone in their tracks and can grab the viewer and relay the emotion of the shoot. That’s what makes portrait photography one of the most commanding styles of photography, to this day.
So to help you get started and to capture these dynamic, powerful images, here are tips to help you bring your portraits to the next level:
1. Evoke genuine expression
In a world of selfies and “perfect images,” let your portraits glimpse the person below the facade they show on social media, even if just for a few frames. Those are the true photos that’ll capture a viewer’s attention.
2. Use contrast to draw the viewer in
Our eyes are typically drawn to bright areas in photos, so use your lighting to focus the viewer’s attention where it best tells the story. It can be anywhere in the image, but just make sure that you’re drawing attention to where it fits most.
3. Get in close
Some books on portrait photography will say to stand back while making a portrait in an effort to compress the space. But the truth is, getting in close, and literally moving closer toward your subject, will allow you to better connect with the person you’re photographing.
4. Fill in the frame
Unless you are shooting an environmental portrait, make your subject take up as much of the frame as possible, even if this means cropping hair or the top of their head. You want them to be the centre and the main focus of the shot.
5. Embrace shadows
What we don’t see in an image can be as telling as what we do see. Use shadows to help draw attention to these more subtle moments — it all works to elicit emotion from your viewer.