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Take Fantastic Portraits with These Essential Tips

Taking a great portrait may seem easy to some, but it is truly an art form that requires skill, patience, and a keen eye for detail. If you're just getting started with photography, it's crucial to keep a few key things in mind when you have a subject in front of you. While you want to focus on them, it's important not to forget about the environment and how you can use it to your advantage. Adding interest through blurred lines, lighting, and shapes can really make your portrait stand out. In this blog post courtesy of Gerald Perey Photography, we'll take a look at a few ways you can ensure a fantastic portrait every time.

Choose the Right Background or Environment

The background or environment you choose for your portrait can make or break the photo. Choose a background that isn't too busy or distracting, and make sure it complements the subject. If you’re shooting outdoors, look for a natural setting that will provide a beautiful backdrop for your portrait. Keep in mind that the weather will provide atmospheric changes, such as fog or muted light.

Lighting is Everything

Lighting is one of the most important elements of a great portrait. Natural light is typically best for a portrait, but you can supplement it with lighting rigs or reflector panels to make your image pop. Depending on the type of portrait you're shooting, the lighting can even act as a way to tell a story. From bright and sunny to dark and moody, the way you choose to illuminate your portrait will have a big impact.

Use a Focal Length that Suits Your Subject

When it comes to selecting the desired focal length, several factors come in to play. Do you want to focus on certain features of the subject (i.e. the eyes of a person or an object the person is holding). Or do you want to incorporate more of the surroundings to compliment the subject, such as a beautiful landscape or a product in use in a particular environment. If it is the former, then a longer lens can allow more "reach" and focus on the subject. Furthermore, the proportions of the subject can appear truer to life. If it is the latter, a shorter focal length with a wider field of view can allow more of the subject to be in frame or more of the background to be captured with the subject. Alternatively, a close-up with a wide-angle lens can allow for more dramatic and exaggerated effects. For example, a low level shot of a model can make certain features (such as legs) appear longer. Also, distance to the subject must also be considered in combination with the selection of focal length. Whatever decision is made regarding focal length, it must be a considered decision to what the artistic direction will be.

Framing subject to provide context. Image captured with Fujinon 56mm F1.2

Slightly wider photo to allow more environmental context. Image captured with Fujinon 16-55mm F2.8 @35mm F2.8

Help Your Subject Relax

It’s important to make your subject feel comfortable and relaxed. You might reserve some time before the portrait session to sit down informally and talk to them about their goals for the portrait or learn about their interests. The more you can get them to open up and relax, the easier the session will go--and the better the portrait will turn out. You can start by snapping a few practice shots, keeping things candid and loose, before moving on to poses.

Use Adobe Express Tools to Make the Most of Your Photos

Adobe Express is a great tool for editing and enhancing your photos. It has a range of features that can help you make the most of your images, such as cropping, adjusting the exposure, and adding filters. You can also use tools to create a web portfolio using your finished images. Take a look at some of the things you can do with Adobe Express:

Create a stunning online portfolio. This is a great way to highlight your best work, and you never have to worry about running out of room. Get creative with the process and show off your personality.

● Create a gorgeous slideshow that showcases your portraits. This is perfect for your website, especially if your goal is to draw in more clients. Set your slideshow to music to make it more dynamic.

● If you’ll be shooting senior portraits, they’re perfect for graduation invitations. You can offer these as part of a package on your website. Adobe makes the process quick and easy.

● Create an attention-grabbing blog post that shows off your latest portrait sessions. You can choose from an array of templates. This is a great way to highlight creative portraits or senior sessions.

Taking a great portrait requires lots of practice and patience, but it's helpful to keep these tips in mind. By helping your subject relax and preparing them for the session ahead of time, you can ensure the best possible photo. Learning more about lighting gear and lenses is also a crucial element, as your tools will allow you to move quickly through the session and capture fleeting moments.

Have a question or comment? Reach out to Gerald Perey Photography to learn more.


This blog post was provided in partnership with Adobe and guest editor, Ellie Jensen, from the Adobe team. Please do check out the links above for an overview of the Adobe Express tool set and look to how it can elevate your content. I extend my gratitude for this opportunity to work with Adobe on this blog post.


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