I do not know about you, but I think there is no worse question than the one that is not asked. If you are a portrait photographer, you will definitely understand what I’m talking about. We never stop asking ourselves some question; both when we are with the camera and when we are not.
While some portrait photographers have found an answer to most questions they have in their head; many have not. But it does not matter; the important thing is to keep the learning and curiosity high, and you will see yourself doing exploits in the field. This article has been written to focus on some questions you may need to find answers to as a portrait photographer. So, let’s call it a time to learn.
#1: How Do I Avoid Red Eyes?
The red eyes appear when the pupils of the people we portray are very open, that is when there is little ambient light, and we add a flashazo without previous warning.
In this case, you have several options. The most logical would be to try to turn off the flash and look for other sources of lighting in the scene, opening the diaphragm, raising ISO or slowing down. But we cannot always do without the flash, right?
In that case, the ideal is to try to keep the pupils as closed as possible or, what is the same, give light to the look so that when the flash is fired, it does not meet the pupils in night mode ;).
We can do it either by activating the red-eye reduction mode of the camera if we have one, or by doing the same in a more home-like way what would be to illuminate the look in some way, so that when the flash is fired, it will be with a closed pupil.
#2: How Do I Add Interest to The Look?
The eyes are the mirror of the soul, and in a portrait, they are protagonists by themselves. The look drags us, speaks to us, moves us. A good portrait photographer knows how to capture a captivating look. If your model looks at the camera, make sure that the eyes have the prominence they deserve.
- Through the composition:Sit your eyes on one of the strong points of the image, in one of the intersections of what we know as the rule of thirds.
- Focus: A few eyes perfectly focused will direct our gaze toward them naturally, and make you stand out above any unfocused area.
- And of the light: Try to make the eyes reflect some kind of light. Eyes with light are eyes full of life. And you can also do wonders on this during post-shooting using a very good photo editor. Alternatively, you may contact a portrait retouching service and ask the professionals to add catch lights to the eyes of the model to make them twinkle with delight.
#3: Why Does My Model Have Orange/Green/Blue Skin?
Surely you have already noticed that in certain scenes, the light seems to be tinged with some unnatural warm or cold tone. It is due to certain lights that, although they may seem natural or white, at first glance, the truth is that they are translated into very pronounced tones in the photo.
Usually, we spend indoors, with the lights of a lifetime house that translate into orange or green (fluorescent), but also outdoors on cloudy days, for example.
The way to solve these few natural tones in the face of your portrayed is to adjust the white balance. The white balance is a function of your camera that allows you to neutralize these dominant colors that you are not interested in leaving neutral or white. It is very simple to use.
#4: What Is the Best Light?
There is no better light because it will depend on what you want to convey in your portraits. A hard light transmits strength, contrast, or drama, and a soft light transmits tenderness and beauty.
But the truth is that to simplify, we can say that the best light for portraits is soft or diffused light with a lateral inclination. It is the one of sunrises or sunsets and it is very flattering.
Indoors you can get this type of sidelight approaching a window. You can regulate the strength or intensity of this with a white curtain that acts as a diffuser if the light that enters is very hard. Remember if you don’t get the lightening correctly, you may end up with photos which will be too blur or sharp. In that case, you can sharpen image to help the situation, but it is always better to find the best light.
#5: How Do I Get the Focus Right?
Focus is something that every portrait photographer brings to his head. Surely you already know how important it is and how it can mark the success or disaster of our photos.
In portraits, the focus is essential. Here are some tips to get a good result:
- Do not approach and re-frame because, even if it does not seem like it, the perfect focus is lost. If you need to re-frame, block the focus first.
- Do not use diaphragm openings excessively open because it will cost you more to hit the bulb. Try with f/4 of /5.6 that will allow you to have an unfocused background at the same time and will facilitate the focus on the face.
- If your camera does not hit with the focus because there is little light or little contrast, try focusing on manual. It’s not the end of the world ;).
- Keep in mind the minimum focusing distance of your goal. Sometimes it does not focus, simply because it can not
#6: Near or Far?
There are many types of portraits, some very closed, such as the very first close-up or the foreground, other more open planes. It will taste and depends on each moment or what we want to transmit. However,
- A good location or an attractive background can increase the interest of your portrait.
- If the place is beautiful or interesting, it helps you contextualize your protagonist, if you have colors that can increase interest in your portrait, try to open the map and include it.
- If the place does NOT contribute anything, it is not photogenic, it reduces the role of your model or destroys your composition, closes the map or looks for another scenario.