10 Inspirational Portrait Photography Techniques

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Use a Reflector

A reflector is one of the most valuable bits of equipment for the portrait photographer. It’s essential for getting even exposures, but also great when used as an interactive device. Asking someone to hold it on the shadow side of another gets your subjects involved and engaged with the process. If you don’t have one, seek out natural reflectors, such as sand, snow or water, which can also help to light your subjects from below. Just remember, the shinier the surface, the harder the light will be. And the quality of light reflected will match the hue of your reflector (for example, sand will give you a warm tint). So it’s worth shelling out for an all-purpose white reflector. Lastolite and Westcott reflectors start around £30.

Use On-Camera Flash

On-camera flash is great in situations where you’re moving with the people you’re photographing. If you’re in a forest or at the beach, try mounting a wide-angle lens and running with your subjects (this works particularly well with kids) and snap with your camera slung down by your feet. On-camera flash will fill in your subject and give a clearer view of this unusual perspective.

Keep It Low

If you’re shooting with flash light rather than natural light, keep your flash set to low power. This enables you to use a wider aperture and retain a higher level of detail within your areas of shadow.

Shoot When Baby’s Happy

Babies make few demands, but those they do are important: food and sleep. If you want to catch a baby at their best, try to time your portrait just after a nap or feed. In the hour after eating or sleeping, babies will smile and coo for your camera. Likewise, babies are at their most active first thing in the morning after they’ve woken up. The later in the day you try to photograph a baby, the more of a gamble you’re taking.

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