Super quick (and easy!) tip for more flattering portraits

One of my goals when I take portraits is to make sure the resulting photograph is flattering to the subject. There are a ton of techniques one can use to improve a portrait from lighting to digital alteration but one of the very best and quickest ways also happens to be one of the easiest. Here are three photos of the same subject taken from three different perspectives (uh, please forgive the model). In the first, the camera was slightly below the subject shooting up, then at eye-level in the second, and finally a few inches above the subject:

BelowEye-levelAbove

It's clear to me that the last photo is the most flattering. Not only does this perspective make me look thinner, notice that it also opens up the eyes and hides wrinkle-revealing shadows. A few inches of elevation above the subject's eye-level is all you need.

Negative Space Can Have a Positive Effect

Many elements work together to create a pleasing photograph. One such elements is negative space. Negative space is all the space inside the picture that is not the subject. The edges of any picture form a frame for that picture. Within that frame, the subject is considered the positive area; the rest is called negative space.

The word negative is used descriptively; it is not a value judgment. Negative space is not something to be avoided. However, it is something to be considered, because it is an important part of a picture’s composition. It is a design element in your image.

A stencil can help you recognize this importance. Here the subject is the brass object, but the negative space that forms the letter is equally if not more important.

stencil

Negative space has several functions. It helps define a subject. In many cases, it also provides a vital element in the design of your image. Since a photo is two-dimensional, the space around a subject appears on the same plane as the subject. Negative and positive spaces are side by side. The balance between them should be pleasing. Read more...

Vertical Viewpoints

Sadly, many photographers take only horizontal pictures. They always lift their cameras and shoot. Their pictures are all landscape views, pictures that are wider than they are tall.

These photographers are missing some great opportunities.

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Vary Your Viewpoint

The term "viewpoint" describes the camera’s position in relation to its subject—near, far, above, below, for instance. Many photographers never change their viewpoint. Ninety-nine percent of the time, they hold their cameras at chest or eye level and shoot straight ahead. Doing so allows them to take clear pictures of buildings, animals, people, plants, cars, and landscapes, so it's not a bad strategy.

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How to crop a photo for better composition

In an ideal world, every photo you take would be perfectly composed. However, in real life, many pictures could use some improvement. Often, thoughtful cropping can make the difference between a mediocre image and a better one. Cropping a picture just means eliminating or trimming off edges.

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