10 Portrait Tips Page 2

6. Stay Alert
Whenever you're at an occasion with people, keep your photographic eye peeled for good candid portraits. People being people provide lots of great photo opps. All you need do is watch for them.

Photo by Lynne Eodice

7. Eye Contact
The eyes are the windows of the soul, a very wise person has decreed. And your portraits can give the viewer a glimpse of your subject's personality (if not the soul) if your subject makes eye contact with the camera, rather than just staring off into space. Whether you're shooting formal portraits or candid shots, strive for eye contact, and you'll get more-effective people pictures.

Photo by Mike Stensvold

8. That Other Format
While portraits naturally lend themselves to vertical-format images, you can shoot very effective portraits using the horizontal format, too. And doing so will add variety to your (and your subject's) portfolio. If you have trouble "seeing" portraits in the horizontal format, go to a movie, and see how the pros do it—motion-picture photographers don't have the option of vertical-format compositions.

Photo by Lynne Eodice

9. Late-Afternoon Sun
While the high-noon sun comes from too high an angle (and is much too harsh) to provide good lighting for people pictures, the late-afternoon sun, when the sun is low in the sky, makes a great portrait light source. Because it has to travel through more of the earth's atmosphere, late-afternoon sunlight is less harsh than noon sunlight, so it produces softer, more flattering lighting and doesn't cause subjects to squint unattractively. Its low angle produces a much more attractive lighting direction than the almost-straight-down angle of the noon sun, and you can change from direct front lighting to ¾ front lighting to sidelighting to backlighting, or anything in-between, merely by having your subject turn toward or away from the sun. As an added bonus, the late-afternoon sun's warm glow adds a pleasant orange cast to color shots (you can eliminate the cast if desired by using a light-blue filter such as the No. 82 series).

Photo by Lynne Eodice

10. Props
Take advantage of handy objects at your location to add interest to your people pictures. Work with your subject—sometimes the subject will naturally interact with items in the setting; other times, you'll have to come up with ideas. Either way, such found objects can make for much more interesting photos.

Photos by Ron Leach