11 Tips for More Creative Portraits
1) Do something whacky
Now, where to start with this. Let's say you've got a teenage girl wants some shots of her in the prom dress. Well, you start off with the obvious safety shots, but then you start thinking... Against graffiti, in a skip, in a swimming pool, water poured over her head, in a field, in a burnt out car, on a roof, with her head in a paper bag, with silly make-up... Now not all of these are going to work - but keep thinking
2) Go Dutch
The Dutch tilt, when the horizon is not vertical is a great way of adding a dynamic to an image. You can often apply this to any portrait, especially a headshot, and often no-ones knows its tilted anyway. For a headshot, tilt so the eyes are lower in the frame, not higher.
3) Use creative frames
Doorways, windows, cardboard boxes, empty picture frames, mirrors, bars, grills, blinds. Just a simple lean against a doorway gives you a different look.
4) Think like you are still using film
OK, most of them time I'm going to tell you to keep your finger hitting the shutter button. But there are times when slowing down is the right answer. Think like you only have 1 shot and you will approach things differently.
5) Stop repeating your mistakes.
After every shoot you will sit down and filter out the ones that are no good. Well, instead of just casting them aside, spend time considering WHY they failed and make sure you don't do it again.
6) Only shoot what you love
As a professional photographer that's not always easy or possible, but whenever possible shoot the things you are interested in and passionate about. Also shoot according to your temperament - if you like funky pictures that you are probably better at those than traditional portraits. Focus and build on your strengths.
7) Try silhouettes.
Especially if you got a great background like a sunset. Thinking in silhouettes is a great way of thinking about your composition too.
8) It doesn't have to be pretty
Shooting someone all sweaty and dirty can be a great shot - and actually can apply equally well to guys or gals.
9) Quick fix to make a backdrop interesting.
Most backdrops are dull because they are evenly lit and square to camera, instead move the light, camera and sitter so that you are looking across the backdrop instead of flat to it.
10) Bring a script
Actually I mean a literal script of lines for people to read to each other, photograph the person being read to - it's their reaction that you want. What ever the script, you are bound to giggles and laughs.
11) Get involved with other photographers
Whether on photo walks, camera clubs, forums or any other media. But I would recommend shooting with others as being the most valueable. Watch how they shoot, how they frame, what they look at, what they skip over. If they shoot similar themes as you then all the better, look for the differences that make a difference.
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