10 Inspirational Portrait Photography Techniques

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Try Mixed Lighting

Can’t decide between natural and tungsten lighting? Sometimes a mixture of both can create a nice, warm atmosphere. Position your subject inside, near a window, but leave a couple of lights on in the background. The mix of tungsten and natural light can illuminate your subjects and the room around them with a warm, ethereal glow.

Use Rear Curtain Sync to Add Energy

Rear curtain sync fires the flash at the very last instant before the shutter closes, freezing any motion at the end of your exposure. To get creative with your portraits, particularly of young children, rear curtain sync can add a heightened sense of energy to your image with the effect of a streak of motion blur trailing your subject from where they originated.

Get Creative With Your Flash

Try using off-camera flash for more creative effects, such as getting rid of the background and isolating your subject. To do this, position your flashguns so they direct light at an angle to the people in your image, darkening the areas around them. An angle of 45 degrees gives the most natural result, providing a nice, subtle shadow on the other side of the face. If the flash is fired from the hot shoe, it just looks flat.

Stop Unwanted Highlights by Changing Position

When working in natural light, it goes without saying that you have less control. A sudden burst of sunshine on a cloudy day can be just as troublesome as an unexpected spell of rain on a sunny one. If unwanted highlights are causing havoc with your exposure, re-position yourself or your subject so that their body blocks the sun out of the frame. If that fails, zoom in to a longer focal length and set a wide aperture, then move in closer to your subject. This will mute the highlights by blurring them.

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