WEEK 8: PORTRAITS
College of Southern Maryland
• A portrait is defined as a likeness of a person
• Reveals something of the person’s character
• Good portraits contain something about the person’s
personality, attitude and mannerisms
• Some people show character with immediate
transparency, while others may be more difficult to ―read‖
• This takes skill and an understanding of human nature
• Get to know your subject with small talk
or informal conversation. It’s important for
people to feel comfortable
– Plan a few shots to break the ice.
– You and the subject will be nervous.
• Calming the subject
– Relatively comfortable position
– Subject will settle down during the
• You must be in charge
– Competent and knowledgeable
– Only then will your subject become
• Emphasize the person in a portrait - not his
or her surroundings.
• What background works best with the clothes your
subject is wearing?
• Where is the sun?
• Is there wind to mess up the hair?
• Is the location private, or will you have to worry about
clutter or distractions in the background?
• What is the weather like; is it sunny or overcast? An
overcast sky provides soft, diffused light, while a sunny
sky provides bright, intense light. Overcast is preferable
in most cases.
• What can you use in your surroundings to enhance the
• Will you use a flash or the available natural light?
• If you will use a flash, will you use the built-in flash or a
bounce flash ? If you use a bounce flash, how high is the
ceiling and what color are the walls? Both will affect the
outcome of the shot.
• If you are using the available light, how strong is the light
coming in from windows or doors? If the light is not very
strong, you may need a slower shutter speed, and
possibly a tripod to avoid blur.
• Pay attention to the background tones and objects.
MORE ON BACKGROUNDS
• Distracting focal point (silly face in the
• Protruding elements from subjects
• Competing lines (strong clashing lines)
• Check your background
• Move your subject
• Change your shooting angle
• Use aperture or focal length to blue
• Fill your frame
• Post processing
Make your location work for you.
Be aware of the background and the available light, but also the environment
Mojo from Flickr
THE VACATION PORTRAIT
• Family with nice background scene
• Problem: too much background, but you can barely tell
who is in the photo
• In portraits – the subject is the people
• Too much background can cause conflict
DEPTH OF FIELD
• Background can be too distracting.
Decrease the aperture setting on your
camera to narrow the DOF.
• The same depth of field effect can be
obtained by simply moving closer to
The closer the subject is to camera, the
narrower the depth of field it will
Rule of thirds
This works under the concept
that tension in the picture will
bring more interest.
One way of enhancing the
composition of your shots is to
place your points of interest inn
While the rule of thirds can be
broken with great effect it’s a
useful principle to keep in mind.
Digital Photography School
• If you see something
interesting, don't be satisfied
with just a wide shot.
• Think about the essence of
what you are photographing
and work closer and closer
until you have isolated and
• Don't be shy. People are
usually happy to show you
what they do well.
To really capture the mood avoid the stark and bright light of flash
photography (or will want to at diffuse it) and so you’ll need to switch off
your flash and do one (or all) of three things to some extent
• Increase your ISO
• Slow down shutter speed
• Use a larger Aperture
Lighting to really capture the mood
Natural Light Back Light
Off center different
perspective – Viewpoint and
Off center different perspective – Viewpoint and Framing
Make your images stand out by
finding fresh perspectives to
An internal, physical response
Does the image feel balanced?
OR does it tilt or feel heavier in
one part than another
• Always keep your end photo in mind when you are
searching out locations and taking pictures.
• Evaluating your situations may not come as second
nature like it does for professional photographers, but,
with practice, you can recognize a photo and to look for
those photographic elements that can help or hurt your