Any genre of photography requires practice. For portrait shooting, especially shooting female portraits, you need to be able to not only choose the right equipment and camera settings - although this, of course, is very important. The second part of the case is the ability to see and show the nature of the model, convey the mood, use the details and build the narrative.
As for photogenicity, the point here is not how people look in the photo, but how they feel and behave in front of the camera. And the photographer’s task is to break down the barriers, help the model feel confident, and then find the camera angles, poses and lights that will hide the flaws and emphasize the person’s strengths and strengths.
How to achieve this all? Here are 10 tips for creating a female portrait.
1. Decide on the type of portrait
Decide on the type of portrait: full-length, waist, chest, only the face is very close-up. Depending on this, you will build a frame, choose a pose, angle, details, and so on.
For example, chest and close-ups eliminate the search for a pose that will make the body visually slimmer. And in the growth and waist, you will need to immediately monitor everything - from the pose and clothes to the position of the hands and background.
But regardless of type, the main role will be played by the face as a whole and the eyes in particular (see paragraph 3).
2. Find the right pose and optimal angle
Almost all women want to look slimmer in the portrait, and this is easy to achieve with a small change in camera angle. By shooting a little from above, pointing the camera down, you visually lengthen your neck and make your face Already. The main thing is not to overdo it. Do not shoot at an angle of 90 degrees: this is inconvenient for the model, and will not look good.
If you photograph at eye level, with the camera parallel to the face, then ask the model to slightly tilt his head to the right or left. This will allow you to relax your face, neck, shoulders and get something more interesting than a passport photo.
You can make a very natural portrait if you stand behind the model and ask her to look back over her shoulder, as if she was doing something and looking at the photographer. But be careful with this pose - you can get not very beautiful folds on the neck.
Experiment. But most importantly - the pose should be comfortable for the model. No matter how beautiful the situation, the inconvenience will be noticeable in the picture. Do not force the model to take a specific pose if she does not like it or is too difficult.
3. Open the aperture and focus on the eyes
An open aperture gives a shallow depth of field, which allows you to separate the model from the background and focus on the person. But remember that at maximum open values it is easy to miss the focus.
Focus on the eyes when shooting people is almost always necessary. You can build the perfect composition, choose the best pose, but if the eyes come out blurry, the picture will lose a lot. The eyes are the most important detail of the portrait; they are not in vain called the “mirror of the soul”. This is especially important for close-ups of the face.
Make sure that the eyes are sharp, and that light is reflected in them - this will create the impression that they are shining. If possible, adjust the focus on the eyes manually. If the model is half-turned and you cannot focus on both eyes, then focus on the one that is closer to the camera.
To avoid motion blur, try using shutter speeds of 1/200 or shorter.
4. Shoot in RAW
Shooting in RAW format will give the widest possible opportunities for subsequent light and color correction of the photo. This is especially important for delicate work with skin tones.
JPEG, although it takes up less space and is more convenient for immediate publication on social networks, means significant data loss.
5. Take black and white portraits
The black and white portrait makes the viewer concentrate all his attention on the shapes and play of light and shadow. The effect is enhanced by the lack of color.
Converting to b / w will help if the color distracts from the content, it seems excessive, or the lighting was inappropriate and during post-processing it is not possible to achieve colors that are pleasing to the eye.
Try converting the image to black and white and see if it got any better. A black and white portrait always focuses on the model, emotions, plot - and this, in the final analysis, is the most important thing.
By the way, some cameras have corresponding modes that allow you to see how a black and white photo will look right during shooting.
6. Shoot in batches
Portrait does not require high speed burst shooting, such as sports. Nevertheless, it’s worth taking a few frames to catch that very moment, especially if you want to capture emotions correctly.
After shooting, you can view the footage on the big screen, without rushing, and select the strongest frame. In addition, serial shooting will help you not to miss anything: it is quite possible that a flickering facial expression, a smile, a pose can not be repeated by the model or they will no longer look so natural.
Professionals will not appreciate this advice, since it turns work on a photo into random shooting, but for a beginner this is a good chance not to miss a successful shot.
7. Focus on personality
Choosing the right angle so that the model looks better in the photo is very important. But this is only part of the image, and not the most important.
The photographer’s task is not to make the woman “different”, to introduce her to someone who she is not. On the contrary, it is necessary to reveal its inner beauty, to show its true self.
Therefore, you do not need to try too hard to achieve maximum visual harmony, or go too far with retouching - because the more you change your model, the more difficult it is for her to accept and love herself for who she is. The emotional component of a portrait is a much more important and deep part than the artificial standards of appearance.
8. Talk to the model
A short conversation before shooting will help your model to relax, feel more natural. In addition, if you discuss emotions, the mood of the picture, she will better understand your idea, be able to plunge into the desired state, the feeling that you want to convey in the photo.
If all else fails and the woman is too pinched in front of the camera, ask her to close her eyes, mentally count to three, and then open them and smile. This works in almost 100% of cases: it helps the body and face to relax, and the model itself - to find peace. Here, advice number 6 will be needed: perhaps one of the shots - with eyes closed or immediately after opening them, will just be “that way”.
9. Pay attention to detail
Details can both create and kill an image. An ugly wrinkling fold of clothes, improper make-up or an unnatural position of limbs can ruin the rest of the perfect frame. As mentioned above, the greater part of the body enters the frame, the more details you need to pay attention to.
Some helpful suggestions:
1. Have eye drops with you - tired, red eyes will not decorate your portrait.
2. If possible, discuss the image to be created with the model in advance - speak out the choice of clothes, headgear, jewelry, make-up that will help tell the story.
3. Avoid clothing with a high collar - it visually makes the model’s neck shorter. A blouse or V-neck sweater, on the other hand, will lengthen your neck and make your upper body slimmer. 4.Avoid clothes with bright large prints. They distract the viewer's attention from the face in the portrait.
10. Try and experiment
Shooting rules can help in the work, but can also become an obstacle to the ideal portrait. Do not be afraid to break them, experiment - this is your picture, you bring your own vision, your own understanding and reading into it. Try unusual angles, unusual combinations. Only in this way can you find your style.
As the old proverb says: “The best camera is the one you have now.” Almost any modern camera is capable of creating wonderful portraits, so grab it in your hands and start shooting. Whether it's a mirror or mirrorless, full frame or crop, even a smartphone. The most important thing is how you use its capabilities to reveal your model and scene from the best side.
Over time, you will understand which camera and which optics will be optimal in certain situations. Classical “portrait painters” are considered to be 50-mm and 85-mm lenses, but excellent photos can also be obtained using the zoom with a large focal length.
Remember the 10 tips above, know the rules of composition and light schemes, but do not follow them thoughtlessly. Look for optimal solutions for each specific case - this will help to make pictures better, livelier, more interesting.