Portrait photography is like a bread and butter thing for professional photographers. No matter which other genre their passion might be so far as photography is concerned, they ought to be able to shoot portrait photos for a living. For many it is the only way to make some decent amount of money doing photography as a professional.
Now, there are no dearth of professional tips on the internet for budding portrait photographers. If you go through a few you are bound to be flooded with advice on to ask the model to pose, what are the best lighting sources, the ideal gear for shooting portraits, light buying tips, so on and so forth. Very few will actually encourage you to go beyond your comfort zone and experiment.
Breaking the ice
Unless you are a fashion photographer, 9 out of 10 times your models have no clue as to what they should wear, or what the best pose is for their body type or even simple things like what to do with their hands. The role of the photographer in this case increases manifold as he not only has to conduct the shoot, but also direct the model, which in this case could well be his client, on how to pose, what to wear and those sort of things.
The best way forward for you is to speak to your model and pacify the nerves. Facing a camera is a daunting task and not many people can do that effortlessly, let alone when they are facing a stranger with a camera. Your ability to speak and break the ice can go a long way in making the shoot a successful one. Talk about anything that gives the model a level of confidence. Ask her about her work, her family, her kids, her hobbies, about driving to the shoot or even planning for it.
Bring the model out of their comfort zone
While we are at the topic of breaching the comfort zone how about bringing the model out of her comfort zone? Standard stereotypical images are seen everywhere and they really don’t wow us anymore. Instead, bringing the model out of her comfort zone has the potential to completely change the whole look of the images. Here is a great idea, looking for a corporate portrait shot session with your client? How about asking him / her to do what he / she loves doing and take pictures of that’s session? It could be snorkeling, bike riding, a training session at the gym or even bungee jumping! You could offer your client to shoot that for a little extra and show him the resulting images. Surely the out of comfort zone images will look more natural, may even be whacky but certainly much more interesting that the stiff corporate style images.
The subject looking off camera
Almost always, in a portrait photograph, a subject looks straight at the camera. This has an obvious advantage when you are shooting corporate style photos. But that does not mean all your portrait shots need to be like that, dead center compositions and the subject looking down the barrel of the lens. Ask your model to look slightly to the camera right or left. As if she is looking at something interesting. The expression can be experimented with as well. A bemused look or even an amused one depending on what you would like to have.
In this world of super telephoto lenses leaving space around the subject is somewhat of a bemusing thought for photographers. We are so engrained with the idea of cropping tight that often the subject of our photos appear unnatural, completely devoid of a background. Break this monotony by leaving ample space around the subject. It does not have to be all around the subject. You can leave space even at one side of the photo. This is also known as negative space.
Break the rules of photography
Sometimes the only option to experiment is by breaking all the rules that you know. This includes all the established rules such as rule of thirds, leading lines, patterns and every other unspoken rules so to speak like perfect exposure, focus and so on. If you want to make your images stand out from the crowd and generate a bit of interest you have got to get out of the comfort zone. Staying behind the rules of photography will only help you to get standard stereotyped images.
Tilting the horizon line
We have always been taught as photographers that the horizon line shouldn’t be tilted in any way. Cameras have horizon line indicators that warn us when the horizon line is crooked. Tripods have bubble horizon indicators. But what if you do want to deliberately have a crooked horizon line? Did you know that a deliberately crooked horizon line can introduce a bit of tension in the image? Depending on what you are trying to achieve that can have a positive effect.
Tips on photographing babies
From personal experience babies are a lot easier to photograph compared to older kids. Older kids will rarely listen to what you have to say. They are not intimidated at the sight of a stranger with a camera (though there are exceptions) like adults are. But they are likely to vent their frustration at being invaded in their own little ways. With babies you have a much easier time. Even then you need to time your shoot perfectly. Morning times are good, especially if the baby has had a good night’s sleep and had a fill. She is likely to be in a nice mood and could very well give you some beautiful images. But be quick, babies are like the weather in the mountains. It does not take long to change.
Like every work of art, your images, no matter how well they have been made, needs a bit of fine tuning in the form of post-processing. From simple things like color correction, sharpness, noise reduction or to more complicated things like removing obstacles and such, post-production is a necessary part of every photographer’s workflow. If you feel that this is taking too much of your time or want to outsource it someone who is better skilled than yourself, go to Phowd and find a retoucher who fits your business.