Photography is an enjoyable hobby but it can also be turned into a profitable business by offering services to others around you, be it family portrait photography, outdoor portrait photography, baby portrait photography or wedding portrait photography.
Portrait photography is an easy way to interact with your subjects and capturing their important events that they can reflect back upon in future. However before you proceed on your portrait photography business, here are some 3 fundamental portrait photography tips you need to know in order to succeed:
Tip 1) Preparation is Key
Scout for a location for your shoot, once chosen, you need to explore the area in order to familiarise yourself with the place.
Choose specific sites with beautiful scenery and spot potential sites that would give you a pleasing background.
During the days approaching the shoot, take note of the local weekly weather patterns in order to avoid scheduling your shoot on a rainy day. Do have a different indoor location in the event of a sudden weather change.
Tip 2) Types of Portrait Lenses
Instead of using your standard kit lenses or zoom lenses, use fixed focal length lenses which are much suited for portraiture, such as a 50mm f/1.8 or a 85mm f/1.8.
Good prime lenses for portrait photography are lenses with wider apertures of at least F/1.8, which allow the user to achieve very shallow depth of field, where the background is reduced to a smooth, dreamy blur whilst still having the subject sharp and in focus. This gives a very nice pop to the image, at the same time blurring away any distracting background.
The focal length for these lenses should be 50mm or longer, as mid telephoto or telephoto would flatter the subject and separate the subject from the background. While wide angle lenses (wider than 50mm) will tend to distort and widen your subject’s face than it really is, thus creating an unflattering image.
Tip 3) Lighting
Photography is essentially painting with light, where light is your paint, and the camera your canvas. Therefore using different quality of lighting is important as it can sometimes give your portrait a dramatic effect.
Try to photograph during the golden hours of the day, the first hour and last hour of day, usually around 8am-9am or 5pm-6pm. The type of light in the golden hours gives you warm, diffused light which flatter your subject by giving their faces a warm, healthy glow. It is more peaceful during these hours, which sets a comfortable mood for photo-taking, putting your subjects at ease.
Shooting portrait in the afternoon is often not ideal, as hard lighting can create unflattering shadows, make your clients uncomfortable and give you an unsatisfactory result due to the harsh lighting.
Sean Freeman is expert photographer specialising in portrait photography and has more than 15 years experience in portraiture photography.