Tag Archives: portraits

Three steps to instantly improve your photography – step one

Digital cameras are improving at a rapid speed and are more readily available to the average Joe nowadays. It is easier than ever before to take a correctly exposed, correctly focused photo. Yet most people’s photos just look like snapshots. They’re a long way from the beautiful photos you see in magazines. I’d like to share with you 3 simple and easy and ways to instantly improve your photography, even if you’re a complete beginner.

1. Improving your Composition

Most people’s instincts when taking a photo are to place the most important thing in the middle of the picture. When photographing a person, that person’s head is the main object of interest, so they place that right in the middle. This is the sure sign of an amateur. 

To learn more about Composition try my next class: DEMYSTIFY ~ Composition, where so much more will be explained.  Read more here

KEEP IT NATURAL!

Some enviable people are born with photogenic genes and movie-star smiles, but for the rest of us, here are a few tips on how portrait subjects can smile naturally for those dreaded family photo sessions (or any other time!). Some photographers still direct their subjects to say “cheese” which could be producing undesirable results, definitely something to consider:

 

1) Don’t say “cheese.” It stretches your face and mouth into an unnatural position that looks strained rather than relaxed.

2) Instead, say a word that ends in an “uh” sound. Yoga. Mocha. Grandpa. Really, it works.

3) Laugh while the photo is being taken. It can be just a little chuckle that helps relax your face, or try thinking of something funny for some genuine laughter and your own version of that famous open-mouthed Julia Roberts smile.

4) Lift the tip of your tongue up behind your front teeth. This helps position your lips into a relaxed pose.

5) Relax your face. With a genuine smile, the face is completely relaxed except at the mouth and the corner of the eyes (i.e. smiling eyes). Try to replicate that and not stiffen your cheeks while smiling.

 

Or watch this video for the fun of it.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE LIGHT!

 

Light is the essence of photography. It’s not things that we photograph, but the light they reflect. Without light, there is no photography and the way things look to us and the camera is entirely dependent on the light that reaches them.

People talk about the “quality” of light, but in fact this is a combination of different things that all light sources possess. Every light has a level, a color, a direction and can either be hard or soft. Unless you are working in a studio, where you have total control over the lighting, the first thing any photographer should do is to make an assessment of the light.

When you are making an assessment of the natural light around you, the first thing to realise is that there is never only one light source. All light travels in straight lines, until it hits something. It then bounces off. If it hits a shiny object, it will bounce at the same angle it arrived at, like a billiard ball off a cushion. If the object is matt (i.e. not shiny), it will bounce off in all directions and pick up the color of whatever it hit.

A single bare light bulb will create a hard light directly on your subject. At the same time, it creates a soft light by bouncing off the walls, floor and ceiling. The lighter those areas are, the more soft light will be created. If one of the walls was white and the others dark, then most of the soft light would come from the direction of the white wall.

As you might expect, the direction of a hard light source is much more critical than that of a soft one. In fact, changing the angle between your subject and the light source can totally transform the way it looks. If your subject has a rich texture, that can totally disappear when the light is square on to it. The more oblique the angle, the deeper the texture will appear.

For portraits, a frontal light will make people appear less wrinkled and happier. As the light moves to the side, they will look more serious. Light from above is seldom flattering and light from below makes people look downright weird. If you like landscape photography, try to visit your favorite spots at different times of the day and see for yourself the complete transformation that the angle of light makes to a photograph.

Using natural light doesn’t mean that you need to put up with bad lighting. By making a thorough assessment of the light sources around you it is possible to make the best use of what nature has presented you with.

 DSP2027