Are you an aspiring photographer looking for insider tips to excel in the art of portraiture? Or are you hoping to add some individuality and professionalism to your #day29inlockdown posts? Amateurs and professionals alike, in search of new ideas and unusual forms to take your photos to the next level, have come to the right place. Learn how to make your portraits special, memorable and eye-catching with these 5 things you need to know before taking the IDEAL portrait photo.

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE

The best source of lighting is, of course, the sun. But make sure not to shoot under bright lighting – this may result in unwanted shadows on your model’s face and neck. 

There are two ways of avoiding them; either look for a big tree or building and hide in their shade or use a reflector, which is a surface used to redirect light. If your budget is tight, you can make an improvised reflector using tin foil.

If you’re shooting indoors currently because, well, it’s a lockdown and all that, and cannot use the natural light, purchase an off-camera flash to redistribute the light and shoot your model from a different angle to highlight their best features.

FIND THE GOLDEN RATIO

Time to get creative! Take close-up shots, use a new angle, shoot upwards – let your imagination run wild here. But whatever you do, never forget about the golden ratio, or its simpler version called the rule of thirds. 

Here’s how to harness its power. Divide the picture into nine equal squares by mentally drawing two vertical and two horizontal lines and place your subject along these lines and at the intersections. This technique will help you focus the attention of an observer on the main subjects and create a harmonious portrait.

Another unconventional way to take great portrait images without breaking the bank is to frame your subject with clothes, strands of hair, hands or other tools to emphasize one part of the body or face. This creates a deep and strong portrait, and allows the viewer to fill in the gaps.

THE EYES HAVE IT

Firstly, set a wide aperture – between f/2.8 and f/5.6 – to make the background a bit blurry and concentrate the attention on the model. Indeed, never underestimate the importance of your background; make sure it fits the atmosphere and has no foreign objects like electrical wires.

Secondly, always focus on the model’s eyes. You can set a perfect composition and lighting, choose the best location and the rest, but if the eyes are out of focus, it will immensely decrease the quality.

BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

Make your model feel as comfortable as possible: turn on some music to set the right mood, offer her or him a drink, and talk to your model to set a relaxing and confiding atmosphere. Your goal is to capture the essence of this person and in order to get there, you’ll need to get to know your model first.

Also, don’t diminish the importance of details like makeup, jewelry and accessories; they can either make the setting flawless and create a story or ruin the composition entirely. No detail is too small; discuss the clothing, hairstyle, even nail polish before the shooting day, so the model comes prepared.

FINISHING TOUCHES

However good your photography skills may be, there’s no shame in taking advantage of the miracles of modern technology with a portrait editor – PhotoWorks is our favourite. No matter how professional your photos look, an effective editing tool will take them to another level altogether.

In terms of this portrait editing software, once you’ve opened the picture in the program, go to Portrait Magic and enhance the quality of the photo in one click. Highlight the lips or the eyes, smooth out the skin, and remove the eye circles in a heartbeat.

Another useful feature of this portrait photo editor is the Face Sculpt tool. Let’s be honest, we can all name a few things we’d rather change about our facial features, maybe the nose is not Hollywood-like, or eyes are a bit too far apart or eyebrows are too thin – this tool will help you correct it. 

Though you have all of these tools at your disposal, exercise a little restraint. Don’t go overboard – there is nothing better than natural beauty, after all.