Becoming a master of portrait photography takes lots of patience and practice. It’s likely there are a few mistakes you are making with your portraits that hold them back from excellence. In this article, I will walk through eight tips to instantly boost your portrait photography game and take it to the next level.
#1 Adapt to the available light
Light is one of the most important elements to keep in mind when taking portraits – specifically how the light looks on your subject’s face. Proper lighting, or lack thereof, can make or break your image. Direct the person you are photographing to turn their head towards the main light source, whether it’s a street lamp or the sun. If you’re having them look towards the sun, tell them to look in a direction that won’t cause them to squint or be unpleasant for them. You don’t want people going blind on your shoot, right?
While the golden hour is a fabulous time to photograph portraits, you won’t always have the luxury of perfect lighting thanks to the whims of Mother Nature. In these situations, you need to adapt to the available light to maximize your portrait opportunities.
Keep in mind, there is no such thing as bad light. It can all be used to your advantage if you know what you’re doing. Here are some basic tips for different natural lighting scenarios:
- Harsh sunlight – have your subject stand in the shade to provide even lighting across their face.
- Golden hour – have your subject face the sun to give a nice glow on their face or put the sun behind them to get some halo lighting.
- Cloudy day – you will pretty much be good to shoot anywhere since the clouds will naturally diffuse the sun and provide flattering, even light on your subject’s face.
- Night time/low light – look for a street light or other light source that can provide good lighting on your subject’s face.