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5 Tips To Become A Better Portrait Photographer

Let's pretend you have a model lined up for the shoot. Before you take those great pictures of them, there are a few things you can keep in mind. Pre-production and post-production are the two most critical aspects to remember. From visualizing the whole image in your head to shooting it and then bringing it to life in post-production! So, here are a few pointers to help you improve your portrait photography. (Practice in real life to reap the rewards.)

1. Prepare a Mood-board

This is what pre-production sounds like! Instead of having the ideas in your head, try to find something closer to your idea. It may not be the exact picture you are thinking about but can be similar in terms of colors, poses, expressions, props or even the location. At the end this is just a rough idea because whatever you are going to shoot should be unique to you. I personally use Pinterest to create various boards that will assist me throughout the shoot. Take, for example, my saved boards.

As you can see how vague my mood-boards look. For instance, if I'm doing a portfolio shoot with an inexperienced model who has no experience with posing, I'll create a board with poses that will guide us in getting better photographs during the shoot.

It may be anything from beauty boards to framing or even places like the bathtub, parking lot, or Christmas concepts to having light setups as Pinterest boards.

2. Communication with the Model

You must have heard the quote "Communication is the Key to Success". It is definitely true when it comes to portrait photography. Get comfortable talking to the model, you can ask few questions and keep the conversation flowing. Keeping the energy at the same level is very important. There are few questions for you to get started:

  1. How did you get into modelling?

  2. Where do you work or study?

  3. How long you have been shooting for?

  4. What kind of genres do you like shooting?

Never forget to compliment them once you've started shooting. This gives them more confidence in their ability to strike good poses. Play some music that they enjoy to keep them focused. Talk to them about the concept you're working on, and make sure they know what kind of poses and expressions you're looking for. To give them an idea, show them the references from your phone.

One of the most important thing I've observed while clicking portraits is sometimes you may not get the desired results in terms of posing or expression because the model maybe trying very hard. In situations like these, give them a breather, tell them to just move their hands freely and relax a little bit. The model should never get conscious about their poses while shooting. Poses and good expressions will emerge as you gradually compliment them on the good poses and correct the bad or awkward ones. With time and practice, both the model and the photographer will improve.

3. Lighting

When it comes to photography, this is the most important factor to consider! It either makes or breaks the photo! To make things easier, decide whether you'll use natural light, natural light with off-camera flash, or completely indoor lighting.

As a natural light photographer, I can guide you to your perfect shot: