DIFFERENT TYPES OF PORTRAITS AND TIPS FOR IDEAL RESULTS
Capturing Perfect Portraits
Family portraits may involve a young family and parents, or a shot of multiple families all within one.
Coordination of clothing is essential for family members for a portrait. Neutral or cool colors are a good idea for clothing, since faces appear warmer and pleasing within the portraits. The family garments should blend, with shoe styles and colors blending in with the person’s attire.
Posing can be done by age, size or with small family subgroups. The lighting needs to be even all over the group, so family groups can be captured with a soft light and an umbrella flash. Multiple umbrellas can be used and light reading all across the group from front to back and left to right should be identical. Shadows should fall behind the subjects, and not on other people. For outdoor portraits multiple lights might be needed.
Capturing perfect children portraits is a major challenge since it is not easy to control or instruct the young subjects. In children photography, it is ideal to use an assistant as well as props, like stuff toys, and rocking chairs, to attract the subject’s attention and keep them happed and posed for an ideal photograph.
The basic lighting setups need to be used, and should be simplified for the active subjects, who have short attention spans. The placement and setting of elaborate lighting setups must be replaced with a single broad backlight, which produces an even effect all over a larger area. It is suggested to use only one light if possible.
Many photographers use cameras fitted on a tripod, with a radio remote or a long cable release, so that they are free to roam away from the camera. This way, they are able to interact easily with their subjects, and keep them relaxed to capture an ideal portrait. A loose composition is ideal to compensate the movement of the subject.
Clothing should be appropriate to the setting and coordination of the props, blankets and clothing is essential. Casual clothes in outdoor settings are a suitable choice. Clothing can be used to define the personality or outline the importance of a moment. Ensure child comfort though and don’t be too specific on what is being worn.
Group photography is a daunting and challenging task for any photographer.
Planning for a large group photograph requires the right setting. It is important for a photographer to know the group makeup, reason for the photograph, and different ideas for organizing the group. The ideal lenses to be used should also be decided by the photographer, and they should be in charge of the project. A group portrait should have a rhythm and style. It is up to the photographer as to what way they want to organize and photograph a group for a portrait.
To create visual movement, it is important that no two faces in a group are on a similar plane. In a group portrait, every subject can have a pose on a different plane, as planning in terms of multiple levels, ensures that the group portrait appears pleasing to the eyes.
The closeness of the subjects in a group portrait is another important element. Closely arranged subjects imply closeness, which is linked to warmth. Distance between portrait subjects, gives a chance to introduce shapes and flowing lines, within the portrait composition. Whether loosely or closely arranged, consistency is the key, with equal distance between all members of the group.
One or many planes can be made for placing the group subjects. With these planes, the lighting is simplified, making it possible to include everyone in the depth of field of the lens. Some settings also give a natural organization for the planes. Subjects in the back and front should be close, so that all of them are captured with sharp focus. Each individual subject should do well as an individual portrait as well, as this is the judgment criteria for the quality of a group portrait.
In a couple setting, one subject is generally expected to be taller than the other. The mouth height of one subject must be at the lower subject’s forehead height. Mouth to eyes height arrangement is recommended by many photographers. Couple can be posed in parallel positions or at a 45 degree angle with each other. Subjects facing each other makes for a good pose which creates a diagonal line, giving direction to the portrait.
In big groups, the photographer needs to focus attention on the basic elements of design, accentuate and highlight implied and real lines. Overlapping subgroups is a good way to add visual sense in a large group. Angling the subgroups towards one another is a way to bring uniformity in large group compositions.
It is tougher to photograph an even number of subjects compared to odd groups, as the brain naturally accepts the odd numbered disorder more readily than an even numbered one. Three member groups are pleasing as they give a diamond or pyramid shaped composition. In a small group, the face heights are adjusted to be at different levels, while the turn of the shoulder is a way of looping the group together. Groups of three or anymore subjects enable the photographer to add design, architectural and natural elements into the portrait.
For these portraits the photographer needs to see and be able to control the lights.
Portraits can be captured under a shade, but not outdoors. The ideal shade would be a porch, with open sides. This way, the shade will filter in light, not from overhead but from the sides, giving the light a gentle direction. Holding a gobo over the subject is a good way of blocking the overhead light.
Capturing Beauty After Sunset
Great portraits can be captured after the sun has set, as the entire sky becomes a softbox, with soft and even lighting effects on the subjects, with no worry of harsh shadows. The three obstacles of working in this kind of light are that first, it is dim. High to medium ISO settings with slow shutter speeds will need to be used which can pose a challenge. The second problem is that subdued lights restrict the field depth, as you have to choose wide apertures. Twilight also does not produce any catchlights, because of which photographers use a flash, or a barebulb flash which produces twinkles in the eyes.
Since twilight changes so rapidly, it is difficult to work in it. Different lighting levels are produced and the photographer needs to use the meter repeatedly, in order to adjust the flash output.
With limited time available with the subject, it is good to be aware of the subject and their offices beforehand. Executive portraits are on location, and all the lighting paraphernalia needs to be taken to the offices for lighting up the executive and their surroundings. The setting should be typical and relative to the subject, and one which puts them right at the centre of attention. They should be at the focal point of the scene.
A wide angle lens and getting a close effect of the subject, is the right way to loop in the surroundings in the portrait. Limited space also makes wide angle a need.
Different types of portraits are taken at a wedding and all should conform to the doctrine of sophisticated posing coupled with elegant lighting. The portrait of the couple should be of full length and three quarter length. Introduce dynamic lines in the composition, with the couple leaning in towards each other.
The portrait of the bride should be one full length and a head and shoulders length. The subject should be posed at an angle with the lens. The bride can have her head and shoulder tilted with the high shoulder giving her a feminine S curve.
These are different from conventional portraits, as the object is to bring out the beauty of the subject. With more frontal type of lighting, posing is more relaxed in nature, and close up images of composition are ideal for fashion portraits with a tight cropping feature.
Portrait lighting is ultrasoft and a keylight is placed right over the lens with a reflector just beneath the lens. Keylight is placed close to subject to get a softest effect. Makeup gives dimension and contouring to the subject face, with frontal lighting that relieves the roundness of the face roundness. Shaded cheekbones and both sides of the nose, give a better shape to the face.
For men’s fashion portraits, ultra close up camera views, camera tilting, and very casual style of posing. Makeup is also applied for the desired effect.
Teens and seniors are very conscious of how they look. It is important for a photographer to be well aware of the styles and latest fashions to help the seniors appear at their best, reassured and relaxed with perfect portraits. Seniors will want to be photographed in a number of outfits and variety of poses, and it is good to opt for a natural look. It might be a good idea to let the seniors bring in any props which will make them feel comfortable and add personality to the portrait.
This book will serve as a guide to all portrait photographers who want to refine their skills and learn the tricks of the trade for expert portrait photography.