It may look easy, but portrait photography requires more than a point and click approach. The photographer wants to capture the physical features of the subject or subjects and inject the mood of the moment into the photograph. So how do you get the subject to give you a natural look and how do you capture the mood of the moment?
You may want to try to meet with your subject once before the photo shoot. As you meet your subject or subjects take a moment to get to know each other. Ask yourself, ‘What are the features or traits that capture the individuality of this person?’ Is it the hair, they eyes, the smile or an athletic frame?
Don’t begin photographing your subject until he or she is comfortable. A good sense of humor may be useful to relax your subject or even a general Q & A conversation to get the subject comfy with you and the whole idea of having their picture taken. Keep the conversation going even as you are clicking away. And reinforce how beautiful they look, and how great things look from your point of view. Let’s face it, there are lots of people who hate to have their picture taken.
But don’t you get too relaxed! Remember to continually check the background, foreground, lighting, exposure and the subject’s appearance. You must be in control of the session. Don’t let a bad background ruin a pretty face.
Make sure you are prepared with backup batteries, flash, tripod, memory cards and lighting reflectors if necessary. Of course, the best light for photographing individuals is natural lighting. Natural lighting easily helps bring out the natural features of the subject.
In some instances, get adventurous. Especially with small children or families. What I mean is, don’t hesitate to use props such as hats or a beach ball in your photo. Matching clothing can also be quite appealing, say white shirts and denim bottoms for the entire family or the newly engaged couple. Nice.
Keep composition a part of your image. Try not to shoot the subjects dead center of your frame. Use your background and natural surroundings to help compose a beautiful picture.
Now that you know some of the basics, go ahead and find a willing subject. Have some fun with the camera, props, nature and your subject.