Portrait Photography Tips From the Pros

I think I speak for all us photographers when I say that when we take a photo, we want it to look its best.

This is true whether you’re a landscape photographer, a portrait photographer, or something in between.

But sometimes wanting to get the best results and knowing how to get those results are two different things…

So, if you’re ready to step up your portrait photography game, consider the following tips as essential to getting started.

Posing Tip: Construct the Portrait From the Ground Up

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Believe it or not, if you want to create a portrait with the most visual appeal, you need to start not with the subject’s face, but with their feet instead.

That’s because the feet and legs give the portrait the structure it needs to really stand out.

Think about it…if your subject has their feet too close together and they don’t have a stable base on which to stand, they’ll look wobbly in the shot.

What’s more, simply having the model stand there, legs straight and feet even, is just not a very exciting look, as you can see above.

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Instead, have the model shift one leg behind them with their toes pointed at roughly a 45-degree angle from the camera.

Have them shift their weight to the back leg, and turn their body to align with that 45-degree angle.

What this does is spread their feet apart to give them the stability they need to be still while also creating an interesting camera angle.

With their body pointed slightly away from the camera, you have a better ability to create a portrait that has depth and dimension and is more engaging to view, as seen in the image above.

Learn More:

Composition Tip: The Eyes Have It

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As the saying goes, the eyes are the window to the soul. As a result, they should be the focus of most portraits.

One way to help viewers lock onto the subject’s eyes is to shoot at eye level.

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That means that if you’re photographing a basketball player, you might need to stand on a stool to get your camera even with their eyes.

Likewise, if you’re photographing a toddler, you might need to lay on the ground or sit down to compose a shot that’s at their eye level.

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This is a good tip whether the model is looking at the camera or not.

If they’re looking right down the barrel of the lens, an eye-level shot will create a more intimate portrait for the viewer to experience.

If the model is looking off-camera, taking the shot at their eye level allows viewers to understand how the model sees the world from their specific point of view.

This isn’t to say that you can’t get creative and shoot portraits from above or below eye level.

It also doesn’t mean that every portrait you take even has to include the model’s face and eyes!

However, when you take a traditional portrait like those shown above, be sure you compose your images in such a way that viewers have an opportunity to interact with the model’s eyes. If you can do that, your images will be far more engaging and memorable.

Get more insights on shooting at eye level in the video above from The Art of Photography.

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Workflow Tip: Keep Your Gear Close

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It doesn’t matter if you started taking portraits yesterday or if you’ve been a professional portrait photographer for 20 years…

If you dilly dally and are constantly engaged in digging through your camera bag, swapping out lenses, or changing camera bodies, your model is going to lose interest pretty quickly.

This is especially true if you’re photographing everyday people (instead of models) because most of us everyday folks aren’t that interested in being in front of the camera in the first place.

That means you need to take measures to speed up your workflow and keep your gear easily accessible so you can keep your subjects engaged in the photo shoot.

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If you ask me, there’s no better way to do that than by having all the gear you need right on your body.

Spider Holster allows you to do just that with their modular SpiderPro kits.

The Sue Bryce Kit, for example, includes a SpiderLight Belt and Holster for carrying your gear, a SpiderPro Plate to attach a large DSLR body and lens, and a memory card holster so you don’t have to dig through your bag to find a new card when the first one fills up.

Also included is a SpiderPro Hand Strap so when you release your camera from the SpiderLight Holster, you have a rock-solid way of holding onto your camera, but without having to mess around with a long neck cord getting in your way.

In other words, with this kit, you have everything you need for a productive photo shoot right on your hips within easy reach.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?!

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But the Sue Bryce Kit by Spider Holster isn’t just convenient in that it allows you to comfortably carry your gear…

With the small form factor of the SpiderLight belt, you don’t feel bogged down or cramped by your gear, either.

Instead, it affords you the freedom of movement you need to direct your portrait subject and compose eye-catching shots whether you’re taking a close up, a half-body photo, a full-body shot, and so forth.

Sue Bryce has been creating breathtaking portrait, fashion, and glamour images for nearly three decades, so she certainly knows how to maximize a portrait photography workflow.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your portrait photography, do yourself a favor and snag a SpiderPro Sue Bryce Kit, focus on posing from the ground up, and work on composing your portraits around the model’s eyes.

You might just be surprised at what a difference these three simple tips can make!

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