Figuring out how to direct a non-model subject in a way that flatters their features and creates interesting lines is a challenge. Getting the lighting right is essential and using a reflector can help turn hard shadows into soft ones.
But all that can add up to a lot of stress for both the model and photographer.
1. Practice with a mannequin
Often, the challenge of portrait photography is getting subjects to relax. This can be difficult if the subject is new to posing and may feel uncomfortable around the photographer. Taking them to a café or taking a walk before the shoot can help break the tension and make the session more enjoyable for everyone.
One way to practice a variety of lighting setups without the pressure of a model is to use a mannequin. Mannequins are easy to find and inexpensive, making them a great tool for learning how to create different types of portrait lighting. You can also use a mannequin to experiment with different angles, backgrounds, and facial expressions.
The most important part of a portrait is the face, but there are other elements that can add to the overall effect. A great background can set the scene for the portrait, while a light that is just right can give a soft or dramatic effect. A good photographer knows how to blend the different aspects of a portrait together to create a seamless, professional-looking image.
Another challenge of portrait photography is getting your subject to look their best. Whether this means removing a blemish, brightening their smile, or whitening their teeth, it’s crucial to make sure your images look clean and polished. Using a tool like BeFunky’s Touch Up tools can make these adjustments easily and quickly, without changing the look of your subject.
When working with a subject, it’s important to be able to provide feedback on what is and isn’t working for them. This will help them feel confident and comfortable in front of the camera. It’s a good idea to focus most of your feedback on what is working, but don’t forget to give some tips on what you think isn’t working.
Getting the right portrait can be a daunting task, but practicing with different poses and lighting techniques can help you achieve amazing results. Having the right props can also be a big help when trying to get a great shot. A simple backdrop can change the whole look of a photo, while a wide-angle lens can add more dimension to your shots.
2. Practice with a toy
When it comes to photography, props are a great way to add something to the frame that can elevate an image. For portraits, they can introduce a pop of color, create a story, or simply make the subject stand out. You can find all sorts of props at your local dollar store or even online. Wigs, masks, costume pieces, flowers, fruit baskets, magazines, mirrors, vinyl, and smoke are just a few examples of what you can use to help your subjects shine.
When photographing non-model subjects, it’s important to establish clear communication to ensure you’re capturing their authentic personality. One of the most effective ways to communicate direction is through mirroring, where you show them how you want them to pose and then they copy your movements. This can be a fun way to encourage creativity and build confidence on set.
It’s also a good idea to experiment with different perspectives to see what works best for your subject. While most portraits are shot at eye level, trying a low or top view can be a fun way to add something different. You can also use lighting to enhance the image. Using backlighting can create a more dramatic silhouette, while side lighting can give your photos a soft, flattering glow.
Another thing to try is to experiment with the colors of your subjects’ outfits and backgrounds. Choose a color that’s dominant in the scene and then incorporate other items that have that same color to create a cohesive look. You can also play around with black and white photography, as it can help to accentuate the subject’s features and highlight emotions.
Once you’ve mastered basic portrait photography techniques, you can practice with friends or family members. If they’re not used to being photographed, you may want to start by asking them to wear a smile or hold a favorite object. Then, you can touch up their images in post-production using tools like BeFunky’s Teeth Whiten, Lipstick, and Eyebrow Pencil. This will help them feel comfortable on camera and allow you to capture their natural beauty.
3. Practice with friends
When you’re ready to take the leap to photographing real people, reach out to a friend or acquaintance who is comfortable with being photographed. Explain that you’re learning about portrait photography and would like to do some test shoots with them. You can use the photos as practice to perfect your settings and lighting, but also as a chance to get to know your subject a little better. Ask them about their favorite hobby or the things that make them unique and you’ll find that they open up to you more easily.
While a lot of portraits are taken at the subject’s eye level, shooting from a different angle can make for some stunning and unique images. If you’re comfortable enough, you can even try taking pictures from above your subject. This will help you to create some really interesting and unusual shots, and it’s a great way to work on your composition skills.
During the shoot, be supportive and encouraging of your model. If they’re nervous or uncomfortable, it can affect their expressions and lead to unnatural poses. Encourage them to relax and play with the pose or shot until they get a feel for it. Providing positive feedback will boost their confidence and allow them to create some amazing portraits.
It’s important to make your models feel comfortable and at ease on set. This will help them to show their natural beauty and personality in the image. This can be difficult if they’re new to the photo shoot scene, so be patient and try to build trust between you.
When working on a photo shoot with a model, try to work with natural light whenever possible. This will create softer shadows and eliminate harsh glare. If you’re unable to work with natural light, be sure to use a reflector to fill in any shadows or imperfections on the model’s face.
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with post-processing software. Using Photoshop or another similar program to enhance your photos can help them to look more professional and polished. However, it’s important to use these tools sparingly so that they don’t become distracting and overpower the image.
4. Practice with natural light
If you don’t have a friend or family member willing to play model for your portrait photography practice, there are ways to create stunning natural-light images without a subject. Use the light from a window, an open doorway, or even a lightbox to explore dramatic lighting techniques. You can also experiment with a variety of props to add interesting shadows and highlights. Then, use an editing program like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to emphasize these patterns and contrasts.
Getting to know the way light interacts with your subjects is one of the best things you can do to improve your portraits. For example, if you want your subject to look powerful and confident, try crossing their arms in front of them or leaning back. Using a hat, prop, or another accessory to add texture can also have an impact on how your subject looks.
Color also has a lot of power over the mood of a portrait, so it’s important to understand how it affects the photo. It can make your photos feel soft, romantic, or dark. For this reason, it’s helpful to know the color wheel. You’ll need this information when choosing a color palette for your portraits, and it will help you decide which colors to use for lighting effects or backdrops.
It’s essential to take the time to understand your camera and its settings, but it’s equally important to learn how to work with natural light. It’s best to shoot portraits at sunrise or sunset, when the light is soft and warm. However, if you’re shooting in bright sunshine, it’s essential to find some shade to protect your subjects from the sun’s harsh light.
Practicing with toys and your friends is a great way to learn about portrait photography basics. Then, once you’re comfortable with these skills, it’s time to make the leap to working with real people! Start by experimenting with Rembrandt lighting, then move on to more challenging techniques. For example, try a dramatic split lighting technique or a backlit silhouette. By practicing these portrait photography techniques, you’ll be well on your way to creating compelling and meaningful portraits.