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Photography is a popular hobby for many; maybe you would like to take it a step further and are interested in photojournalism photography. There are ways to incorporate it into your photography hobby. One way might be at weddings. Having their wedding photographed in segments to chronicle the event would be a unique gift that any newlywed couple would love to have.
1. Capture the Moment
Instead of trying to create a moment that is picture perfect, capture the moments that are picture perfect as they arise. The photographs may not be flawless, but they will capture the true emotion and atmosphere of the event. Make sure that you are always paying attention so that you are ready at the right moment. For instance, at the wedding ceremony, don’t focus only on the ceremony, but also keep an eye out and capture some of the emotions from the guests.
2. Tell a Story with a Single Photo
Try to make each image you take tell the complete story. Whenever possible, try to capture as much of the foreground in the photos that you take. This is important because years from now when people are reminiscing and looking at the photos, you want them to remember why everyone was laughing or crying.
Chances are when someone hears the word “portrait” they think of something like this: “Plain, monochromatic background. Focus on the face. Everyone look at the camera now and say, “Cheese!””. (Very yearbook-ish, right?)
While a quality portrait should definitely highlight the subject, it should also capture the essence of the subject’s personality and best features. Here are 12 creative portrait ideas that will take your headshots from “simple” to “extraordinary”…
Creative Portrait Idea #1:
Square Between the Eyes – By cropping in tight against the face, the subject’s eyes become the focal point and seem to fill the entire frame. A square shape provides a fresh twist on the standard rectangular photo.
Creative Portrait Idea #2:
Become a High-Key Master – High-key means to shoot against a white background and over-exposing the subject. This artistic technique allows the subject’s finer details to shine through, creating a unique gallery-worthy photo.
Creative Portrait Idea #3:
Get Emotional – There’s no rule that states portraits should only be taken of happy, smiling faces. Instead, make an effort to capture your subject’s raw emotion and invite your viewer to share in the subject’s joy or sorrow.
Creative Portrait Idea #4:
Line ‘Em Up! Break away from the traditional standing side-by-side group shot! By incorporating the use of vertical lines, the photo is automatically more interesting and engaging.
Creative Portrait Idea #5:
Mirror, Mirror – Give your photos a striking edge! Post-production techniques and filters such as mirror imagery help keep your creative juice flowing long after the camera has been put away!
Creative Portrait Idea #6:
Focus Away from the Face – Headshots are always nice, but by focusing on the baby’s feet and his mother’s hands, the photographer captures a tender moment that will be cherished for years to come.
Creative Portrait Idea #7:
Draw in the Details – This portrait maintains its focus on girl’s eyes by hiding the remaining two-thirds of her face with a large red flower. The bold use of color makes for a captivating work of art!
Creative Portrait Idea #8:
Use Your Environment – Explore the use of depth of field and use your environment – or surroundings – to your advantage. In this portrait, the background allows the viewer to take in the crowd milling about, while the focus is on the child holding a bright bouquet of flowers.
Creative Portrait Idea #9:
Up Close ‘n Personal – Don’t be afraid to get in close and tight! While doing so will likely cut off part of the subject’s face or head, this only adds to the dramatic effect.
Creative Portrait Idea #10:
A Change in Perspective – Every now and then, a change in perspective is just what the doctor ordered. Here we see the subject enjoying the sunny day, while the seagulls soaring high above also remain in focus. Experiment by getting above, below and along-side your subjects for truly fantastic shots.
Creative Portrait Idea #11:
The Anti-Portrait – We all have those, “Don’t take my picture!” moments. But deliberately concealing the subject’s face can be a great technique for candid shots as well as fun editorial pieces. For example, this portrait could be used to illustrate the anti-social behavior many coffee drinkers exhibit before consuming their first cup of Joe…
Creative Portrait Idea #12:
Looking Away – Who says you should always be looking straight at the camera? Some subjects, like children, may prefer to look away from your lens as opposed to head-on. Respect their shyness and use it to your advantage. Note how the focus here is soft and light, creating an almost angelic appearance.
Whether you decide to use one or all of these creative portrait ideas, remember this: To truly get the feel for taking quality portraits, allow yourself to be photographed on occasion as well. You will not only gain valuable perspective from the subject’s point of view, but you’ll also be able to share your growing knowledge with others.
In portraiture, flattering a subject involves controlling the quantity, quality, and direction of light. For today, let’s focus on direction. The direction of light refers to the main light’s position and height as it relates to the subject.
Rather than just placing a light source (flash, studio light, sun, reflector) in front of your subject and calling it good enough, think about what you want to accomplish. Do you want to broaden or thin the face? Are there facial features you want to downplay? Would a more dramatic look create the emotion you want? Use the direction of your light to make your pictures artistically correct.
Here are some traditional light patterns to consider using:
Short light is when you present the shadow side of the face to the camera. This creates thinner, more symmetrical looking faces.
Broad light is usually NOT the best choice. It is where you light the side of the face that is turned toward the camera. It can be used to make thin faces appear wider or to take the emphasis off of undesirable facial features. I can count the number of times a client has asked me to make their face look wider in a picture: zero. That’s why I said broad light is usually not the best choice.
Butterfly lighting is a term to describe lighting from above so both sides of the face are evenly lit. This creates a shadow under the subject’s chin, in line with the nose. This is not good for a person with flat features or a broad jaw line. This style is generally considered to be best for women rather than men because it has a tendency to highlight men’s ears (unless you’re really into ears, then go for it).
Split lighting is usually flattering. You light from the side using a large light source. This makes one side of the face almost completely shadowed. This type of lighting is also nice when you don’t have a background because if you block the light from hitting anything behind your subject, you will have a black background.
Rembrandt lighting is a combination of short lighting and butterfly lighting. The light is placed high and on the side of the face that is away from the camera. It will create a triangle on the cheek closest to the camera that will light up just under the eye but not below the nose.
In all situations, your main light source is called the key light.
The general rule is to position your key light at a 45 degree angle to the subject-camera axis (except for split lighting, of course). You can check if you have a good angle by looking for catch lights in your subject’s eyes. Catch lights should be either at the one or eleven o’clock position in the eyes. Catch lights make eyes seem alive. Without them, you get a dull, lifeless subject. I especially love aiming for great catch lights when the sun is my key light – it makes for dazzling eyes in portraits.
If you want to add some pizzazz, spice, sugar, or whatever you want to call it, consider using a secondary light source. You don’t even have to go get another light – a reflector could be a secondary light source.
A fill light is not as strong as your key light, and takes the harshness out of the shadows your key light doesn’t affect or creates. A reflector is a great fill light.
You can try a hair light. Position it close to the background. It will separate the model from the background while making her hair have a pretty glow.
The bottom line is that by moving the light source, or changing the subject’s orientation to the light source, you can control the direction of the light so that it flatters your subject and creates the mood you desire. Just put the direction of the light within your control!
Being photogenic refers to the ability of appearing very attractive in photos. It is important to grasp that being naturally beautiful or striking does not necessarily translate to being photogenic in photos. Being photogenic is about awareness of how to put your best self forward, and knowing how to express your charisma for the camera. These are learned techniques, including applying your knowledge of the best backgrounds, lighting, and positioning for a good photo. In fact, it’s not unusual for “Miss Photogenic” to be a different person from “Ms Beauty Queen” in beauty pageants because the photogenic subject has learned how to work the camera best.
Mind your complexion and grooming. There is a lot you can do to improve on what nature has gifted you with by way of appearance. Fixing up common complexion errors is important for photos.
Keep your face in equilibrium. Look at your face in the mirror. That’s not actually the face which shows in your photograph. Now stare at your own reflection. After some time your face will reach its “normal” appearance, your “equilibrium” face. Now deactivate your eye region and activate your lip region. Don’t clench your teeth; just make sure that your upper and lower jaw molars touch each other. If you smile with your mouth open, don’t let your upper lip expose much of your gums, or let your lower lip cover far over the bottom of your upper teeth. Always smile if your complexion is dark or dull and your smile should be a slight one. At the same time, stress the corners of your eyes and raise your eyebrows a little. Practice this exercise every day before mirror for a few minutes. In one month, it will become a habit whenever someone tries to take a photograph of you.
Work the angles. Camerawork isn’t all a mystery: people who are photographed for a living are keenly aware of which angles and poses work best for them, and they ensure that this is what they present to the camera most times. In addition, there are a few “model’s tricks” you can use to your advantage:
Get rid of a double chin. Tilt your head up slightly and try to position yourself so that the camera is a little above, or at, your eye level. This will hide a double chin effectively. You can also put one hand under your chin as though you’re resting your head on your hand (keep the thumb side of your hand out of the camera’s view, if possible). Don’t actually rest any weight on the hand, however, or you will push the skin into an unflattering position. Also, try resting your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
Focus on your posture. Not only does this matter for photos but daily good posture makes everything easier in life, including your confidence. Good posture can dramatically improve your appearance in pictures. Sitting or standing up straight will make you look healthier and more alert and, if in a group setting, and more attractive than your slouching companions. Breathe normally and relax your shoulders. If you usually have bad posture, it may be difficult to stand up straight and not look stiff, so practice this in the mirror, working toward improving your posture in the long term.
Relax. The more comfortable and relaxed you appear, the better the photo will turn out. Many people end up looking odd in photos because they freeze into odd facial expressions with a “say cheese” type of smile on their face. When smiling, try a relaxed closed-mouth smile or an open-mouth smile with the lower lip relaxed and down, not up for a smile that gets oddly narrower toward the middle–practice in front of a mirror. If you’re used to having bad pictures taken of yourself, you probably get nervous in front of the camera, and this can make things even worse. If you know a picture is about to be taken, take a deep breath and exhale naturally, relaxing your arms and shoulders. As you exhale, smile or strike whatever pose is appropriate.
Think happy thoughts. An unnatural, forced smile can make you look stiff and, frankly, weird. When people are smiling and waiting for a photo to be snapped, their facial muscles can be caught in all sorts of strange positions. To remedy this, try to time your smile so that you don’t have to hold it for too long. Also, imagine something funny (don’t be afraid to laugh a bit, even) or think of someone—your spouse or child, for example—who makes you happy. By doing so, you’ll get a genuine smile. If you don’t like your smile or your teeth, try a more subdued, closed- or partially-closed-mouth smile. Regardless of how you choose to smile, the happier and more relaxed you are, the better.
Improve the photography situation itself. Whether it’s the location, the photographer, or the after-photo skills, there are some external things you can change to improve your chances of appearing photogenic.
Remember the time you photographed your model? You set up the photograph, make sure your background is appropriate, the light’s great and you click the shutter. And then you look at the back of your camera and your subject looks heavy. You look at it on the computer and it is still not flattering. “How did that happen?” you wonder.
Posing is important. It is a way to capture your subject at their most flattering while making the image interesting.
Model Posing Tips: The posing rules differ between men and women and, most of the time, you never want to use male poses on women or female poses on men. However, if there is a specific reason to cross over the poses, it can create an interesting photograph.
So here’s a few additional Posing Tips:
The last of my tips would be that not all poses look the same on all people. Don’t be afraid of trying different poses and props until you find something that works. And don’t be afraid to learn classic posing. When you photograph using the classic rules of photography, your images are timeless. Once you master the classics, it is easy to add your own flair for images that are popular and that are still well photographed.
Don Blair is the granddaddy of posing. His book, “Body Parts” is considered one of the best books ever written on posing and provides lots of great tips. If you would like some classic posing tips I suggest his book.