This is another installment of Steve Kristof’s digital photo tips from the popular free photo course website www.FreePhotoCourse.com, where the photo enthusiast can learn what the photo pros know. When you know the secrets of photography, your creative potential is boundless! Find out more photo secrets by visiting www.FreePhotoCourse.com,
In Part One of How to Shoot Amazing Portraits, you learned about the value of choosing suitable locations, keeping your portrait subject comfortable and filling the frame with more of your subject’s face. In this second part of the article you will learn more about how to be in control of the creative portraiture process while letting your subject feel that he or she has command.
Portrait Tip #4: Speak-Up and Listen-Up!
As a professional photography educator, I’ve had countless occasions through the years to teach students who were sincerely terrified of social human contact and who did not possess the interpersonal skills that are so crucial to the occupation of full-time photographer. The truth, whether or not they wanted to hear it, is that most full-time professional photographers earn most of their income by photographing people rather than by shooting abstract macro images, Ansel Adam-ish landscapes or surreal photo manipulations. Yes, there is a market for non-human images and a small portion of photographers make a full-time living shooting these very genres for stock photo services or through publications. But consider that most of these photographers likely built-up their skills, repertoire, network, and revenue base earlier in their careers by catering to “people” photography.
-This brings us to the inescapable truth that for almost all photographers, portraiture will be the bread and butter, from a revenue and daily activity standpoint, that supports the inanimate artistic forms of photographic expression.
-So, what’s the portrait tip associated with this particular revelation? Quite simply, portraiture deals with people and people like to talk. While you need to have the technical skills and stylistic presence of mind, you also need to engage your subject in conversation during the entire portrait shoot! -Do what Dale Carnegie taught us about being successful in business and friendships; ask a lot of questions! Listen intently to your subject’s answers. Ask more questions based on their answers and on your sincere interest in what more they have to say. Do all of this continually while you shoot. I guarantee that the resulting portraits will be truthful, natural and revealing. In short – compelling.
Portrait Tip #5: Experiment!
-It’s interesting to note how many photographers of “things” are more than willing to experiment with angles, perspectives, lighting, reflections, textures, and so-on, but how the same photographers seem stuck in a rut when it comes to portraits.
-Experiment with angles; try getting higher and lower than your subject.
-Experiment with perspectives; position yourself so that your subject’s body is facing away from the camera and then engage them in conversation so that he or she swings the head around to face you. Poses with the body and face in different directions are interesting. Try getting half of the face in the frame. Experiment with eyes, mouth or profile exclusively.
-Experiment with the “silly”. Through your shared conversation and active listening, you’ll get a sense of how far you can or should explore the unconventional. You may find that your subject needs a break from the business of serious photography and welcomes the opportunity to show a different side. There’s far more to learn and, best of all, it’s all free! Visit www.FreePhotoCourse.com, for more totally free but comprehensive lessons, pro-secrets and tips, free digital images, contributor’s gallery, great prices on top-selling cameras and gear, and photographer’s forum. You can also find Part 1 of this article as published on this site and elsewhere on the web. – Article by Steve Kristof