Techniques for shooting amazing portraits with digital camera

March 9,2020

Digital Photography

Techniques for shooting amazing portraits with digital camera

Professional wedding photographers with years of experience often find it easy to use old proven techniques when taking portraits. When taking portraits of couples, even when they are posed using new styles, portraits tend to become very monotonous when the angles and compositions being used are the same. We can say the photographers have fallen into a creative rut when all the pictures taken by them end up looking the same. When that happens, they have to pick up new techniques to challenge themselves and stay ahead of others. Let us look at some tips that can help keep the portraits look innovative and distinctive for each couple.

  1. Use a Longer Lens

Many photographers are of the opinion that the 50mm lens is a “must-have” portrait-lens, but the perspective offered by the mid-range lens is something familiar and oft seen. Portraits can be avoided being shot in the mid-range as they tend to look too ordinary. An attractive image compression that cannot be produced by a 50mm can be created using a 200mm or 85mm. This will help to not only flatter the couple by minimising the distortion of features, but also create a more dramatic back-ground blur and moreover, the background will be brought closer to the subject. Communicating with the subjects when using a 200mm would be a tad difficult. This can be overcome if you have one person shooting the picture from the distance and another placed closer to the couple to communicate with them.

  1. Find angles that are not at eye level

It is easy for photographers to see what is right in front of them. For a change, try to give a new perspective to the image by taking it from an angle above or below the eye-level. This is the best technique to use to flatter subjects who are of different heights and body types. Making a bride sit on the floor so that her hair and face are more in focus than the rest of her gives a different outlook to the image than the standard frontal bride portrait.

  1. Use off-camera flash

Even when used straight on, flash very rarely compliments a person’s face and the dimensionality of the image is lost. Both light and shadow on the subjects can be created when flash is used to light them from the side thereby flattering their features. A wider range of highlights and shadows are brought to the subject by this method. Moreover, details in the background are also highlighted and a more dramatic landscape is created.

  1. Overpower the sun with flash

Shooting during the mid-day using natural light is not an easy task. But, the power of the sun can be reduced and the image darkened for better exposure by using a couple of speedlites. This technique can particularly be used when environmental portraits that focus more on the landscape are being created. Speedlites can be effective in lighting up only the subject by over powering the sun and underexposing the sky. To generate light that is powerful enough to overpower the light of the sun, 2 to 4 off-camera speedlites with no diffusers would have to be used. To put more light on the subject, the speedlites can be held closer to the side of the subject. This also helps to create a dramatic effect by underexposing the background more.

  1. Find back-light

Training one’s eye to find perfect light requires time and practice. You can become a master in taking amazing portraits once you have acquired training in finding the light in any situation. After all, the quintessence of any photographic image is lighting. Irrespective of the light source, whether it be the sun, a light bulb or a window, they can be made use of to create beautiful edge light, where the source of light is from behind the subject. The rim light creates an effect that enhances the dimension of the image wherein the subject is more in focus and outlined because it is separated from the background.

  1. Look for silhouettes and reflections

For the enhancement of images, both visually and in depth, learn to look for reflective surfaces and opportunities to create silhouettes. To create silhouettes, it is imperative to look out for a strong source of light and make sure that it is placed behind the couple. The source of light could be light from a window, from a skylight or even a patch of light found on a wall. Try some creative reflective surfaces to get reflections like puddles, glass, floors and even granite walls.

  1. Shoot through objects

Objects that come in the way can be used advantageously. Certain elements can be placed in front of the image. Finding gaps between tree branches or other ordinary everyday items can enhance images by adding an interesting and many a times colourful element to the image. The subjects can be framed in an intimate way by blurring the foreground objects with the help of a longer lens.

  1. The sun as a light source

Photographers commonly shy away from shooting in the sun and prefer the open shade for an easy and even exposure. Earlier, back-lighting was mentioned as a solution when shooting in harsh light conditions. But, sunlight can be made use of as a direct spotlight on the subject. When the areas directly in contact with the sun are exposed, the surrounding shadows and the background will automatically darken throwing more focus and light on your subjects. Varying visual special effects can be created by applying this methods to different lighting options.

  1. Use video light for night portraits

When there is no light source available, video lights can be a good source to light up your subjects. Video lights are a constant source of light and hence, you can check how an image would show up on camera. LED video lights give enough power to last a little more than 2 hours. In low light situations, they are a good alternative to speedlites and can be adjusted quickly in dark situations.

  1. Use gel on your speedlites

The mood of your image can be changed by adding CTB (blue) or CTO (orange) gels to the speedlites. When the shooting is being done in a situation where the sky is overcast and very blue, the environment can be warmed up by the addition of a CTB gel and correct adjustment of white balance. Sunlight can be imitated with the help of CTO gels.


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