10 Hacks to stunning portraits

Photographs are generally classified on terms of locations, themes, stories they depict, subjects they focus on, so on and so forth. As the multitude of classifications exist, so are the personal favourites. My favourite is portrait.
The main objective of the portrait from my point of view is to portray certain emotion, or a certain feeling through the photo.  My model should be the point of focus, and the emotions felt, the expressions emitted should be captured in the best of possibilities. If I manage to show to my audience, what my subject felt while the shot was taken, I feel, its a good portrait.

Today, I shall put down certain points which I feel are important while taking portraits. I keep these points in my mind while shooting and so far, they have served me well.

1. Focus on the eyes: The first rule, by me, is the focus should be on the eyes. Not on the nose, not on the lips, the EYES. Why? Because consciously or not, that’s the first thing that catches our eye in the photo. So, a sharply focused eye of the model, makes the photo likable immediately.

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Sharp focus is on the eyes

2. Let the eyes see: I ll explain this, in simpler terms. I mean, let the photo be such that the model has some place to look to, that the viewer also looks towards the way the model is watching. Let the curiosity be there. If the model is looking towards left, leave some space in the left, and vice versa.

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She looks to her left, so thats where the space should be

3. Change the angles and point of views: All shots need not be taken right from the eye level. Go up, go down or maybe, just take a step back. They all work wonderfully.

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Take a step back, and let her beauty fill the frame
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Make her look up to you
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If needed, get down on the ground too

4. Anticipate Movements:  While shooting at an event, you shall come across conditions where your model is in motion. Observe the patterns and anticipate the movements, be ready and press the shutter at the right moment. With a bit of practice, sharp shots of moving people will not be difficult.

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Anticipate the pattern
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Prefocus, be ready and shoot!

5. Go Candid:  Here, you just need to be on the prowl. Keep your eyes peeled for subjects to be shot. Sometimes they notice you and the expression changes, the objective is to shoot before the expression changes. But be advised, the shots may not be as you would have wanted them to be, but then, sometimes, gems emerge too.

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6. Bokeh to the rescue:  If you have a background which has distractions, or maybe you just dont want the background, open the aperture wide and let the background fade.

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The tip of the finger is all I am interested in, rest all should fade
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To isolate the model from the distracting background, use a wide aperture

7. Use Flash:  When shooting in the dark, or poorly lit conditions, use the flash as a last resort. With a few test shots, gauge what strength and what shutter speed you need to do justice to your model. Once found, fire away.

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The flash gives the adequate light and also helps freeze the motion
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Combination of Flash and wide aperture helps isolate the model and also provide proper lighting

8. Get close:  Often to capture the expression, you must get very close to your model. But be advised, do not disturb the natural surroundings in the process.

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Concentration….captured

9. Ask the model to smile: This trick, never gets old. Ask your model to relax and take a seat. Bring out your gear and show them how to take a shot, and when they have relaxed, ask them to smile….voila! You have a genuine and happy smile,

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Effortlessly beautiful

10. Try Monochrome: For a lot of shots, the monochrome version appears to be of more depth. Try it out, but dont overdo it.

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Beauty as I know best

So, there you go. 10 simple tips to get you going on your next portrait shooting trip. Go on, have fun and shoot some wonderful portraits.

Thanks a lot to the wonderful models here: Nikhila, Gowri, Rishika, Shruti, Soma, Mayukh, Shweta, Parthivi, Aakash, Anushree, Yogi and my muse, Tuhina. You all are simply wonderful 🙂

Cheers!!

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