Professional photographers get to know their subjects by drawing them into conversationand studying them carefully. Amateurs taking picturesof people they know well have a
real advantage in this regard.
Portray the Person, Not the Landscape
: Contemporary portrait photography, bydefinition, focuses on the person, not the surroundings. A portrait’s power can be lost if the subject is surrounded by scenery.However, a photographer can still enhance a portrait with props as long as he makes the person the central focus in the contemporary portraiture. The key here is to include themost telling and significant details related to your subject.For example, instead of taking a portrait of a gardener surrounded by his favorite rose bushes, have him hold his pruning shears and a freshly cut rose. This tells the portraitviewer something about the person without losing the subject in his surroundings.
Say Cheese, or Not:
Contemporary portrait photography doesn’t always need a smilingface, especially if the smile seems fake and unnatural-some people have a “photo smile”that can look forced or less than genuine.A thoughtful or solemn look may better suit the personality of your subject. A farawaylook can say more about the subject than a focused one.
Some people are naturally photo-shy, making portrait photography a realchallenge. In such cases, try taking candid portraits-pictures taken when they’re unawareof the camera. Candid shots can produce evocative contemporary portraits that catch people absorbed in an activity they enjoy.For the truly camera shy, experts of contemporary portrait photography have an unusualsuggestion: wait until they’re asleep. Whether your subject is a newborn or a great-grandparent, portraits of the face at rest tend to show your subject at his most vulnerableand calmest.
: As with any other photographic technique, contemporary portrait photography uses lighting and basic composition to create a mood. A portrait withhalf the face in shadow creates a remarkably different look than one taken in full sunlight.In terms of composition, the position of the person is also of importance. Avoid face-onand profile photos that tend to give the photograph a police mug shot feel. Instead, tryshooting the face from a variety of angles: start with half-profiles, where the face ishalfway between full-on and profile.
Famous Portrait Photographers
The two best portrait tips that can be offered are simple. First, experiment as much as possible. Second, study the work of famous contemporary portrait photographers. Some