Yet Another Eight Interesting Portrait Photography Techniques

In the first part last week, we went through a couple of techniques that are to make your pictures a lot more interesting. We will review 7 more tips, and that might just make the difference in your portrait photography skill set.

1. Consider Close-ups

We can all agree that portrait photography is all about bringing your subject in the frame and making it all interesting. However, we’re thinking out of the box for these 15 shots, so what if we focus on something else instead of their looks? What if we’re trying to channel a certain emotion like running away by photographing their feet, or something special about their hands? There isn’t a rule to what you should focus on, but the point is – always create a story. Hands can lead to some sort of action, feet can point towards movement, and you can keep playing with similar concepts.

2. Obscured By The Clouds

Well, not really by the clouds, but consider obscuring your subject a little bit (or a little bit more). Add some sort of cloth or any object that fits the image, and focus on that one part of their body. Most of the times, if you want to add more depth to the eyes, you help the viewer by obscuring everything else on the face – this leads to a central focus point which will draw the viewer’s look no matter what. Not to mention that this technique of singling out a part by obscuring everything else can be used in a number of creative methods.

3. Working With Series of Shots

Consider for a moment this album cover:

Portrait Photo - Series of Shots

This is a series of headshots, and was quite a point of interest during that time. However, you can apply this particular technique with full shots as well. It adds a lot of context to the image, since it can create a short story. Your viewer will not only rely on their imagination to figure out what came before and after their perfect shot, they have at least one shot before and one shot after a certain action that can help them build the story.

4. Framing The Subject

Remember the little idea we discussed above about obscuring the subject? Well, this is a spin-off on that particular idea. Instead of obscuring things on purpose, consider taking your portrait through a fence, for example. It will draw the viewer’s eye to the point of interest of the image in a natural way, and it will seem less prepared than when using obscuring methods.

5. Consider Wide-Angle Shots

Most of the times, we use fixed-focal or zoom lenses for portrait photography, but we’re still in the out-of-the-box section, what if we were to focus on wide angle lenses for a little bit? Not only it will give the shot a lot of context, but the distortion can be incredibly interesting as well. It might not be the kind of image fashion photography would approve of (and it’s certainly not recommended to take wide-angle shots of your significant other – think of the distortion and the talks!) but then again, the point here is to create interesting portrait shots.

6. Changing Backgrounds

Typical portraits go with grey or white backgrounds. In fashion portraits, it’s all about the model, so whatever else is behind them seems like a distraction (and it often is). However, with creative portrait photography, you might want to introduce that element of surprise and actually go for something like a bathroom-tiled background in a funny portrait. It’s not supposed to highlight the idea of a “Portrait in the Bathroom”, but if you play your creativity cards right, there’s no reason for which this wouldn’t be an interesting shot after all.

7. Go from Portrait to Landscape

This is probably one of the most common-sense rule-breakers. The portrait orientation was considered because it framed the human face a lot better than the landscape orientation. It allowed a certain close-up on face features, while still leaving space for the neck to create a little bit of space between the subject and the photographer (and implicitly, a correctly framed photograph). However, what if we were to change that rule a little bit and go landscape? Consider a model with her hair in the wind that fills an entire landscape shot. Better yet, a shot that focuses on her looking the other way, but again, in landscape mode.

8. Forget About The Angle

The two orientations – portrait and landscape, can be quite limiting. Therefore, what if we forget about either of them for a moment and consider a completely different setting – a 30 degrees angle, a 45 degrees angle. Using a wide-angle lens, to combine techniques. And moving the subject outside their comfort zone. Can you even begin to imagine the power that image will radiate if everything is correctly executed? Just think about it for a moment.