Photography tips – photographing people

JodieLocation shoot, Inspiration, Personal work, Family PortraitureLeave a Comment

I am a wedding and portrait photographer based in Stafford. I use both studio and natural lighting and can often be faced with technical challenges during a photography session. Just a few simple hints and tips for photographing people – including a couple of images of my number one model 😉

  • Good lighting is key to good quality images that are clear and sharp- shoot outside if you can and avoid tungsten lighting (low indoor bulb lighting) If you are shooting indoors try adjusting your white balance settings to avoid yellow colour casts. This article helps to explain white balance in more detail
  • If indoors try shooting near a window for soft natural light – see image example below (window to camera right)Jodie Brennan Photography
  • Use a light coloured wall or even a white surface to ‘bounce’ your flash or reduce shadows. Remember black surfaces will absorb the light and white will reflect it.
  • Simple but easily forgotten – remember to make sure your lens is clean by using a soft non scratch cloth, if not you will have mysterious smudges which will degrade your image.
  • If you are struggling to focus remember every camera/lens has an optimum focal distance meaning you may be too close to your subject. To focus half press the shutter (button) to get it to ‘lock focus’ –  you can always lock focus and then re-frame the image.
  • Get people to relax and try to help them forget about posing too much, make them laugh. For young children or babies singing or making animal noises is always a winner! (if a little embarrassing)
  • Add some ‘life’ to your portrait images by trying to get a ‘catch light’ in the subject’s eyes – i.e the white square or spot in the eye reflecting from your light source such a window or even the sky.
  • Avoid using a wide-angle lens too close to a subject –this can create an unattractive exaggeration of features. This article shows how your lens can effect the look of your portrait Those of you looking to purchase a lens for attractive close-ups of your children a 50mm prime lens is fab in my opinion.
  • Subjects don’t have to be looking at the camera; some of the best shots can be of natural expressions, caught off guard.
  • With shy subjects it may help to get them to look down, you count to three and get them to look up on ‘3’ – just as you shoot. That way they aren’t concentrating on the camera too much and sometimes it helps them to relax and you might get a smile!
  • Don’t be afraid to get in closer (not just with the zoom) and crop as well. Using the macro setting (often indicated by a small flower icon) can be very useful to get some detailed shots or close-ups.
  • With young children or babies get down to their level, try to avoid shooting down onto them. It is far less intimidating and you get more natural images that way. I spend a lot of time in the studio sliding around on the floor!
  • For adults, take your shot from slightly above them – this is much more flattering. It also helps if your subject lowers their chin too. This simple photo set illustrates the techniques in action
  • To avoid lens flare shoot with the sun behind you. However I often shoot ‘into the sun’ (if the sunlight is particularly bright) as this stops your subject squinting and looking uncomfortable. If you are shooting into the sun, and your camera has one, a lens hood is very useful, again this helps avoid lens flare (lens flare can be used in a creative way so don’t always rule it out) You could also use a bit of flash to avoid harsh shadows on your subject (this is called “fill-in flash”) Alternatively find some ‘open shade’ out of the glare of the sunlight, the shade of a large building or tree works well.

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