Do your photos have the “wow” factor? Taking photos that are slightly outside of the box is not only fun, but can create unique images that will definitely “pop.” Following photography rules will produce quality images; however, some of the most striking portraits that you will encounter are those that break all the rules.
Now comes the tricky part; breaking out of the mold of the traditional photography rules that you have come to know and utilize. By adding some randomness to your portrait ideas you can create photos that are one of a kind. Remember, these ideas should be used sparingly at first, until you are comfortable shooting the new style.
Change your Perspective
Typically, when you take someone’s portrait you will put the camera at, or near, eye level of your subject. This makes sense. However, if you alter the angle that you shoot the portrait from, it can provide a “wow” factor that traditional angles do not provide.
For example, one of the most popular ways to do this is by either getting above the subject, or as close to the ground as possible and shoot up. This will create a unique angle for your resulting photo that is not the traditional straightforward image. You can learn more by checking out the course on posing and directing.
Alter Subject Eye Contact
For most photographers the phrase “look at the camera” is second nature. Have you ever stopped and altered the eye contact of your subject? In most cases, a subject will look straight down the lens of the camera, which creates a type of connection between the subject and the viewers of the photo. If you are seeking a more unique image, consider some of the following ideas for your portraits:
· Looking at something that is not in the camera’s view: By having your subject look at something that is unseen by the camera, it will create interest and intrigue in your picture. The intrigue can be increased if the subject is showing emotion, for example laughing or surprised. Be careful when using this tactic because when the subject is looking off camera it can move the viewer’s eye to the edge of the image, taking the focus off of the subject in the frame.
· Looking at something inside of the frame: Another option is to have your subject looking at something that is in the frame with them. For example, people looking at each other, a child looking at a ball, etc. This will help you create a story in your image.
Break Composition Rules
As a photographer you are likely familiar with the Rule of Thirds in regards to subject placement in the frame. This is a rule that is okay to break, as long as you fully understand it. You can create a powerful image when you place your subject dead center, as well as by placing them on the edge of the frame. Check out this course covering portraits and subject placement to understand this rule further.
Another element to insert randomness to your portraits is how you arrange the lighting. There are unlimited possibilities for lighting your portraits. Silhouetting and backlighting can hide a subject’s features and side-lighting can create a specific mood. You can check out this photography lighting course to learn different angles to try and create different effects to your photos.
Take the Subject out of their Comfort Zone
Stuffed shirt, corporate photos are generally the same. They typically consist of portrait headshots behind desks, in front of awards with all varieties being somewhat yawnable. However, consider taking this person out of their comfort zone and have them jump, dance or show emotion. This slight change can create amazing results.
Take Candid Shots
Have you ever noticed posed shots appear – posed? There are many subjects that do not look good in posed environments, which is when you should attempt candid portraits. Take the pictures while the subject is doing something they enjoy, which will help them relax and allow you to capture more usable images. This approach is especially helpful when photographing children.
Adding a prop will provide another point of interest in your portraits. Traditionally, a portrait will only feature the subject, but you can create a story when you add other items to the frame. A prop will help to tell the story and add another layer to your portrait. Be cautious that you do not add a prop that is going to take attention away from the subject.
Focus on One Body Part – Other than the Face
A portrait, by definition, features the subjects face. If you are breaking other rules, why not break this one too? Use a lens on your camera that has a long focal length, or get close enough to your subject so only one body part is in the frame. Consider using this for photos of the mouth, eyes or hands. It will leave the remainder of the photo to the imagination of the viewer.
Take Continuous Shots
Consider switching your camera to continuous shooting or burst, which will allow you to take multiple shots. You can create a series of images that can be printed all together. This is a good technique for photographing children, or any subject that is active or changing positions quickly.
There is nothing wrong with traditional portraits, and they have their place. If you or your subject is seeking something a bit different or unique, these ideas provide a twist on the usual. When it comes to photography you should let your personality and style shine through the work, as this is a reflection of you.
If you are new to photography, following the rules in regards to portraits is a good idea. However, you are likely to seek alternative images with more depth and emotion. A good place to start when taking portraits is by checking out the beginners guide to portraits, where the basics and rules are covered.