8 More tips to improve your portraits

1) Contrast clothes and location

If your sitter is wearing blue, don't put them against a blue background. If your sitter is wearing elegant, try them in the something grungy. You see these contrasts all the time in fashion photographer because the contrast adds drama and interest.

2) Check the edges of your frame.

While we're talking about backgrounds, check round the edges of your picture to make sure nothing is intruding where it shouldn't and that nothing is being cut off that needs to be there.

3) Check the edges of your subject

Now move back to your subject and check around the edges of their face - make sure there is no telegraph pole growing out of their head, that they are turned just enough to show their face or figure. If they have hands near the face, make sure they are posed properly.

4) Then check edges of the face.

In particular: (a) that there are no stray hairs floating where they shouldn't - a single stray hair across the eye ruins the picture and you can't photoshop it; (b) that their fringe, curls or whatever aren't hiding too much of the face and in particular their eyes - and that includes stopping catchlights in the eyes,.

5) Now you're set - shoot the hell out of it.

You've done all your checking, now get lots of shots very quickly, get your subject smiling, looking up, looking down, looking sad, feeling happy, singing, shouting, pulling faces.

6) Long noses point to camera

Now, while this is going on and the subject is naturally moving their head around - your job is to stay on top of things. For example, if the subject has a long nose, then keep moving the camera so the nose is always direct to camera.

7) Bent noses point away from camera

Ideally so the bend is "away" rather than "towards" the camera, but try and avoid the straight-on.

8) Don't hide behind the camera

Finally while all this is happening you've got your nose glued to the back of the camera, which is OK, but that's not an excuse to stop interacting with your sitter - in fact it's the reverse, keep talking, keep encouraging them, there's a reason why "Yeah, Cool, Terrific, Gorgeous, Brilliant, Hot, Smoking, Wowser, Triff', Stunning" are part of a professional photographers vocabulary - nothing makes better pictures that telling your sitter that they are doing great (even when they are not).

camera edges check sitter nose Simon Q. Walden, FilmPhotoAcademy.com, sqw, FilmPhoto, photography

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