Below you will find 15 great portrait tips on group shots, taking kids pictures and post processing.
Tips were submitted by you as part of the Portrait Professional 8 Giveaway project. As part of this project DIYP readers submitted over 200 portraits and 15 tips.
7/26/08 by CRT PP8 winner
1. Heather Katsoulis: I like to capture kids (but it works the same for adults) at really natural moments for personally meaningful images. So, I join them in their environment where they are most comfortable and take tons of photos of them playing with their favorite toy, making their typical cute faces, capturing the look of wonder when investigating…
2. Jonathan Robson: A great tip for shooting children in the summer. When the light is quite harsh and the children are moving about, have someone hold a semi-transparent reflector over them to soften the light instead of using fill-flash to remove shadows, this has the advantage of instance recycle times which is great for fast moving children, and the reflectors are pretty cheap and easy to stow away in the trunk of the car etc.
3. Travis Cheramie: Here’s my portrait tip for kiddos. At family gatherings, find out where the kids are and go play with them (camera in hand). That’s the way you set up your rapport with kids. Keep a keen eye out for what it is that they are doing and look for an opportunity to get your shot. Kids can be fun to photograph because, unlike adults, they aren’t self-conscious about having their picture taken. Set your camera up to sequential shooting mode if you have it because having several frames to choose from helps in getting the perfect mood in your photo.
4. Becky McGuire: I have a granddaughter who is 2 and never stops moving. What we have started doing is getting 2 even 3 people with cameras. We set them on the action setting and we play hide and seek or give her something she is not supposed to have to keep her still for a couple minutes. It is lots of fun and we sometimes get some fun pictures of her.
5. Kevin L: When taking pictures, there are many of times when the subject blink, due to flash or after you adjust your setting, then click…they blinked. Easy remedy is to do a 3 count. Let your subject know that a flash may be expected. Have them close their eyes, and on three, have them open their eyes and you snap the picture at that exact moment. This should help in avoiding pictures with blinked eyes.
6. Skedonk Jalopy: In order to make someone relax in front of the camera I often ask them to close their eyes, take few deep breaths and then open the eyes slowly. This gives a very nice expression. Make sure not to use a flash with this method – it is extremely annoying to open the eyes just to be zapped by the light.
7. Jimmy Byers: When photographing large groups I have everyone close their eyes while I count to 3 and then everyone open. I wait 1/2 second after that to shoot off a burst to capture the moment
8. Jimmy Byers: I often take pictures at group functions where there is lots going on and there are couples (and individuals) that no matter how I encourage them to look at the man with the camera (me) feel they look at whomever is talking or at whatever else is going around. Rather then be a nag at events such as this I set my camera for burst mode (memory is cheap) to improve my chances of getting them looking at me.
9. Kevin L: If your taking portraits, and have a zoom, a lot of folks will move in closer to take a headshot or close-up. Depending on your zoom, typically, you will get the better image if you step back and zoom in on the subject. Example with SLR. Your using a 28-135 lens. You would want to step back where you are closer to use between 105 to 135mm versus 28 to 100 mm. Try it out and see what you get.
10. Robaticus: Don’t chimp (e.g. don’t keep looking at your LCD after each snap). You are pretty much guaranteed to miss the shot you want if you keep doing that. Learn your setup (flash, exposure, etc.) and trust that the pictures will come out.
11. Wil Smith: In portraiture focus on at least one eye is very important (assuming this isn’t a ‘soft focus’ portrait). In the studio have a bare bulb light mounted such that it will hit the client’s eye. When it’s time to ck focus turn off lights, turn on this bare bulb, it will reflect in the eye giving you a definite spot to focus on. Flip the switch, take photo.
12. Anya Hershberger: When I do portraits, I try to get a natural smile through humor–rather than having them say words like "cheese." Generally, when I’m behind the camera, I talk with my sitter throughout the entire session. At first, they think they have to remain posed and don’t respond to my questions till I put the camera down. Then, when they start answering, I take a couple of pictures when they’re mid-words. After realizing they’ve been photographed off guard, they usually laugh. And then, I get the genuine smile I was looking for–nothing forced or fake. That might seem like a lot of work for a genuine smile, but after the initial ice-breaker, the sitter relaxes and has a fun time.
Additionally, after a senior portrait, I normally take a couple of frames with the mother or father who came with the senior free of charge.
13. Amanda Quarles: I was taking portrait photos of a friend of mine the other day – she was being an AWESOME friend and modeling for me so I could practice on her.
We’re both a little socially awkward, and it seemed to be coming through in her pictures (viewable here) – you’ll notice that in the second picture down on the left-hand side – WE did it.
Our awkward powers created a smile. It was amazing. Basically, I was giving her direction on how to pose, where to look, and etc. – and then I just told her if she didn’t smile in at least one photo I was going to make her hold a turd. She would burst out laughing, and then I would wait for her to get serious, and then say something off color again.
I actually have a bunch of great shots of her laughing, I just sort of liked the moody vibe she giving off after I had a chance to look through the pictures. Fun gal, great friend.
14. Martin Kimeldorf: Sometimes I find that one can enhance an image simplifying it, using the Pop Art style of the 60s. One uses the Threshold filter, but not just once, several times. Duplicate the layer, and each time concentrate on a specific part of the subject. For instance layer one might be background… you could make that the base layer. Layer two, you adjust the threshold for clothing. Layer three adjust for facial parts or hair, etc. Then paint in the part from each layer you want to use. (This is done by adding a layer mask to each layer, filling in black, and painting in the part you want with a white brush). Here is a sample.
15. Albert Dobson: For those moments when things go all wonky and your image comes out all lost in heavy shadows, I picked up a little trick in Scott Kelby’s 7-Point System for Adobe Photoshop CS3:
- Set the Image Mode to Lab Color
- In the Channels palette, select the Lightness Channel
- In the Layers palette convert the image to a smart-object
- Select Image/Adjustments/Shadows and Highlights
- Adjust the settings to your personal taste and preference.
This does an amazing job of recovering the detail in the shadows. If you find a lot of noise, use Filter/Noise/Reduce Noise or Filter/Noise/Median (or both) to tamp the noise down somewhat.