Options in Portrait Photography: Keeping It Fun!

In general, when you think of the term portrait, the silhouette of a person comes to mind, with the shot taken from head to bust. However, portrait photos can be so much more than that! For this reason, it’s time to explore some of the options of portrait photography.

Classic Portraits

Character shots are one of my favorites when it comes to portraits, probably because they are the type of portrait with the most expression to them. “Characters” come in all forms, real or created, but it is left to you as the photographer to capture an aspect of their character and bring that attribute to light. You can explore possibilities with a friend who enjoys trying out absolutely everything in the costume trunk! (Or perhaps, you are fortunate enough to have a talented friend who designs their own outfits and is willing to model for you).

Once you have found the right outfit or costume that sparks your creativity, begin shooting from different angles. Posing features here will be of great importance. For even the most experienced photographer and model, you’ll probably want to reference some of the great texts on posing. Then, once poses are in place, begin experimenting with lighting, keeping in mind some of the options available for backlighting.

Using backlighting for portraits is a great way to show some separation between subject and background. When lighting the hair from behind, you can add a unique touch. Done improperly, however, you end up with the subject being dark and under exposed. In this case, you want to expose for the exact item you are shooting and not utilize the flash. If you use the flash as a fill here, you’ll wash out the subject, missing main focus of your portrait.

Portraits Including Scenery

In addition to classic character portraits, consider including nature scenes taken portrait style with your subject. At times you may have a chance to shoot at new locations, with both professional and playful alternatives. Work place portraits are usually called environmental portraits because they are taken in the environment the person works in, making incredible shots when done in dramatic locations. Recreational photos can be just as impressive when done properly, often ending up looking like professional sports shots.

For true nature shots, you’ll find portrait to be a bit less common photographically, but with a strong sweeping lead line, you can create a solid composition and a successful image. Even though approximately 90% of the time photographers opt for landscape when in nature, still looking for that portrait shot will separate your image from the rest. When hiking along a mountain trail, practice using the path by moving your eye from bottom to what should be the main subject, the mountains. This exercise will often help you find the portrait shot you’re looking for.

Finding Your Own Style with Portraits

Again, many of these options for portraits will work together in combination. As you use one of them, you will think of others, or simply of how to combine several together. There are many options available, and as you explore more, you will get new creative ideas. Then, even in investigating other areas, you may find other tips, used with other subjects that can also be used for portraits, and vise versa. Keeping your eyes open to other options will be your greatest asset!

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