Digital Portrait Photography

Digital Portrait Photography can be a Challenge!

Whether you are working with people who are willing to pose for the camera, or whether you are doing candid portraiture. Posed pictures are more formal in nature, although they don't necessarily have to look posed. Candid shots are informal and a more spontaneous form of digital portrait photography. Traditionally, both types of digital portrait photography would involve taking the head and shoulders of the person and not very much more.

If you're doing a formal head and shoulders shot and you want it to look traditional, crop your subject just below the collar line and make sure he or she is centred in the frame. Get them to relax and feel at ease. If you are photographing a stranger, this might take some time, and you may need to take a few trial photographs first. Gradually most people will ease up as they start to feel more comfortable.

One advantage of using a digital camera is that you can see what shots you have taken without having to get film developed. You can also show the person you are photographing what the pictures look like. Sometimes this also helps to ease the tension, especially if you are willing to instantly delete the photos they don't like.

Professional photographers who specialise in this type of work normally operate from a studio. They often use a backdrop roll behind their subject, choosing a subtle colour that won't compete with the person. Lighting is important, and they seldom rely on a little built-in flash, rather using quite sophisticated studio lighting. You probably won't have that luxury, so you will have to make do with you've got. If you can afford it, a separate flash unit can take the place of studio lights, enabling you to use fill-in lighting provided by the flash. At the same time, natural light often works even better, especially if you can position the person where daylight floods in through a window. Just make sure the light's not too bright otherwise you will end up with harsh shadows and lose detail in their face.

Having said this, it isn't essential to work in a studio, or even indoors. In fact some of the nicest portraits are taken outside. Certainly candid portraits are more commonly taken outdoors. The trick with this type of photography is to look for spontaneous, unusual or even emotional moments that you can capture digitally. A great place to do candid shots is at events of certain types, including weddings. While the bride and groom will definitely want some serious and formal shots of themselves and their family and friends, they will usually get great pleasure from informal candid pictures the photographer takes.

If you really want your portraiture to stand out, think out of the box and try taking pictures of people in a scene, focusing on the important person (in other words the one whose portrait you are taking). This will put the person in context and tell a certain story that is not normally possible with digital portrait photography.

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