5 TIPS FOR GREAT PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY

Male Corporate portrait

Isn’t it great to have some more testosterone on this blog every now and then? Today I wanted to share with you my most recent photoshoot with my client whose name is Clem. Clem is setting up his business and hired me to take some portraits for his Facebook page and social media accounts. His business, called ‘P36 Media’, uses social media to people build their businesses, so if you need some help with social media then click here to check out his page – he’s a lovely guy.

By the way, it was a great photoshoot! Clem is not shy at all and very comfortable in front of the camera. He came ready to have his photo taken and the afternoon was spent chatting, laughing and trying not to freeze since it was an outdoor shoot.

As I reviewed Clem’s photos I thought I’d share with you some tips on taking portraits. These days, because of how advanced the cameras on mobile phones are, the average person has become an amateur photographer whether they realise it or not. So you have at your fingertips an easy way to develop your creativity! I figure that if you’re going to be taking selfies or pictures of other people for as long as you own a phone, you might as well improve your photography skills so that you can slay in every shot. I love that photography is a great way to capture a moment in time with a simple click of a button. It’s like doing a painting within the blink of an eye – it’s instantly gratifying and I love it!

I never thought that I’d become a photographer, but I took a couple of courses and my skills have steadily developed in the last few years. I’m not the best photographer out there, but I’m on a journey of continual learning and I like to share what I’ve learnt in order to help other people. I encourage you to consider experimenting with photography …..you just may discover that you have a hidden talent within. So please keep on reading to learn 5 quick tips for great portrait photography.

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For photography & makeup bookings send an email to msabeinspired@gmail.com

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P.S. For more makeup looks check out my Facebook page and Instagram.

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Male Corporate portrait



Tip 1: Shoot with natural light.



Photography is all about capturing light in order to tell a story. So, take pictures outside because it’s a cheap light source that’s readily available. Or if you’re indoors, place your subject facing a large window and stand in between the window and your subject or stand to one side of your subject when you take your picture – this creates a lovely light for portraits.

I recommend taking pictures in the morning or late afternoon because photos in the middle of the day can look very harsh due to the sun being directly overhead. But if you have to shoot between noon and 2pm, then try to find a bit of shade from a building or a tree to soften your pictures. My photoshoot with Clem was on an overcast day which worked well because we started taking pictures at 1pm. The clouds helped to diffuse the harsh light from the sun at this time of day.

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Tip 2: Focus on the eyes.



They say the eyes are the window to the soul (so corny!!!), but it’s so true because creating a focal point with the eyes in your portrait helps the viewer to connect with the subject a lot better. If you’re using a DSLR camera then place the focus point just between your subject’s eyes, but if you’re using a smartphone then use your finger to press the screen (whilst in camera mode) and a little box should pop up, then move this box to your subjects face to lock in the focus before taking the shot.

Male Corporate portrait

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Tip 3: Try different backgrounds



There’s nothing worse than flicking through a series of pictures with the same background. SOOOO boring!! So, before my photoshoot I scouted around my neighbourhood to find different locations in order to bring some variety into the photos. Since Clem wanted corporate looking photos, I approached the receptionist of a corporate building and asked permission to take pictures in front of the building for a few minutes. Thankfully the receptionist obliged even though I was a complete stranger walking in off the street; I think it helps that I don’t look like a suspicious sort of person (well at least I think I don’t!). But if you aren’t able get a background that you like, consider taking pictures against a fence or a brick wall for some added texture. I actually shot some pictures of Clem against my back fence and it worked pretty well.

Male Corporate portrait

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Tip 4: Lighten up!



Crack a joke, tell a story or just chat to your client/subject. It’s just a photo by the way and not an exam so there’s no need to be intense! The best pictures often catch people in their most relaxed and natural state where it almost seems as though they were looking directly at you and not the camera. So making your subject feel at ease is key. Cracking a joke never fails to produce a natural smile, but if you suck at telling jokes then just chat to your subject in between shots about something that interests them.

Do remember to give lots of praise and encouragement to your subject as you take pictures because it can feel a bit intimidating being in front of a camera. Don’t flatter them but instead give honest praise. Then when needed, give some constructive criticism such as, “You look great, now try leaning forward just a bit more so that I can see more of your face.” I think the ratio of 5 compliments to one criticism works very well. You want your subject to feel comfortable but not judged. A picture says a thousand words, so body language in a photo will always show if the person was comfortable or not when the picture was taken.

MSA Photography

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Tip 5: Learn to edit your pictures



These days you can use so many apps and free websites that have editing tools similar to what you’ll find in a professional editing software like Adobe Photoshop. It’s worthwhile learning how to use editing software to take your pictures to the next level. I especially like using Facetune (a phone App) to edit my makeup shots. It’s great for smoothing out skin or blurring backgrounds. Facetune only costs a few pounds so click on your ‘App store’ on your phone to download it.

I also recommend Picmonkey which is a free editing website that is very user friendly. I usually use it to whiten teeth, brighten eyes and remove skin imperfections – these little tweaks are a quick way to make your portraits look instantly better and your subject will thank you profusely for accentuating their features. Clem was actually missing a button on his shirt in the picture below. So instead of giving up on the picture, I simply used Picmonkey to ‘clone’ one of his existing buttons and place it on the bare button hole. Can you tell which button is real or fake?? I didn’t think so. Photoshoots don’t always go as planned because we are imperfect humans, but thank God for editing software, it seriously helps to save photos from the dark abyss of the trash bin.

Male Corporate portrait

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Hopefully, you’ve learnt something from these 5 tips that will help take your portrait photography from crappy to awesome. I encourage you to take whatever camera you’ve got (even if it’s your phone camera) and starting taking pictures and editing them; you’ll find that your photography skills will grow the more practice you get. Also consider taking a photography course – I’m so glad that I did and it’s forever changed the way I take pictures. Creativity is just waiting for you to discover it, so take that first step today!



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For photography & makeup bookings send an email to msabeinspired@gmail.com

• • •

P.S. For more makeup looks check out my Facebook page and Instagram.

Also, don’t forget to subscribe: insert your name & email below, then click the ‘subscribe’ button:

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