We were all newbies once, and it’s a phase that’s equally stressful and exciting. There’s so much to learn, and you enjoy every new thing that you discover. Unfortunately, there are also many lies and misconceptions that you’ll hear – and since you’re not experienced enough, you’ll likely believe them. In this video, Miguel Quiles brings you the five biggest lies about portrait photography that you should stop believing right now.
1. Great portraits are a result of work in Photoshop
I know I’ve heard this a bunch of times myself – but I also know that it’s not true. Professional portrait photographers usually take photos that look as clean as possible in camera. In most situations, they should be able to show the portrait to the client while it’s still in the camera, so it should look almost the same as the finished image will.
Sure, there is always some post-processing. But it should basically come down to the finishing touches and interventions that will add your “personal stamp” to the images.
2. Professional portraits are all about the bokeh
When you start portrait photography, all you may want is background separation and “bokehlicious” background. However, great portraits don’t necessarily have to be shot wide open or with a longer lens. In fact, including background or the surroundings will sometimes significantly contribute to the story. So, think about your locations and backgrounds and how they can be incorporated into the images, instead of just blurring them out with a wide-open aperture.
3. Models should know how to pose themselves
Everything you include in your image is up to you. As a portrait photographer, it’s your responsibility to direct the pose and the expression from your model and get the best out of them. You need to tell them what you want, they can’t read your mind no matter how good they are at modeling.
4. You can’t take great portraits without expensive gear
We’ve discussed this many, many times. You can take great photos no matter the gear, and nowadays you can even take a great portrait with your phone. As you know, even some magazine covers were shot on a smartphone. As long as you know the fundamentals, understand the light, and know how to direct the model, you can shoot with pretty much anything.
5. It’s easier to take great portraits of beautiful people
This is something I’ve seen plenty of times in the comments on Flickr, in Facebook groups, and so on. People often comment on portraits by praising the model’s beauty and saying stuff like “it’s easy to make a great portrait with a model that beautiful.” But of course, it’s not true. There are plenty of great photos of “everyday-looking” people, as Miguel describes them, and of people who aren’t models. A good portrait has nothing to do with how a person looks, but how they are represented within an image – and that is, you guessed it, your responsibility.
Bonus lie: nudity and sexuality automatically makes portraits better
There’s one bonus point Miguel adds, and it’s about the sexy look in the portraits. Even if your aim is a sexy-looking image, your model doesn’t have to be nude or in lingerie. You can still achieve that look even if they keep their clothes on, as long as your photo has a story and you know how to direct the model to get the shot you want.
Have you also heard these claims in your career? Do you perhaps agree with some of them, or you think they’re all lies?