Portrait and Lifetouch photography is gaining popularity.

Creative ideas for successful portrait photography.

To create the most successful portrait of someone, you have to get to know the person or start with a person you already know. Half the work is already done by starting with someone you already know, as you are aware of their personality, likes, dislikes and most importantly, what makes them “tick”.

How to start a completely new portrait?

Spend some time talking to your subject. You are looking to find out about their personality, which will, ultimately be reflected in your photos. Learn about their profession, daily routines, responsibilities and commitments. If friends and family are available, talk to them also and WRITE everything down as you are going along. Simply think along the lines of doing a documentary of a professional or skilled hobbiest, surrounded by all the relevant tools of say, a boat builder for example. All these facts will start to build the portrait in your mind for you to decide on the next stage…location.


Where are you going to choose the location?

This is more “Lifetouch” than portrait photography, depending on the location. Discuss all possibilities together with your subject in a relaxed manner, then decide on a location and meet together at this agreed location. From here, as a photographer, you can determine the best angles for your portrait. Calculate where the lighting will be at it’s best and at what time of day. Look for shaded areas against any harsh light on the day and any clutter that will need to be removed from the frame. Once you have agreed on this location, it is a good idea to have some photos on “home ground” as well. This will gain confidence from your subject as you share ideas together.

When do you start your portrait.

family portrait ideas

While some people are confident in front of a camera and exaggerate their personalities, there are some that can feel quite intimidated by a camera in their face and therefore not relaxed. A way to avoid any negatives, is to start on their “patch”, at home. This is now where your lighting skills come in to play. Using natural light by a window, sit your subject side-lit from the window and quickly, expertly adjust any shadows with a reflector. Then sit opposite the “portrait” not too close, where you both can chat freely and have two cameras set up on tripods. First camera to the side of the subject and the second camera, just behind you and at a slightly higher angle. Fire some test shots and adjust accordingly. Now for a little trick up your sleeve.

Why two cameras?

By using two cameras and two angles, you simply get double the photos to choose from. Using a remote shutter control discreetly in your hands, you can fire the cameras without the subject being aware, thus eliminating the camera in their face. How you frame your portrait with these two cameras is up to you, but i would recommend that the camera behind you, frames your portrait with some space around. WHY? Because you will be inviting friends and family into the room at various times to bring tea/coffee, so you will  shoot discreetly and continuously at all the expressions of laughter, surprise and anything else the family can cunjure up to get a reaction.

Appropriate clothing.

Crucial to give the portrait some meaning and credibility, in the same way you would not put a Toutou on a Gymnast…unless of course you are going for the humourous portrait. You can exaggerate clothing with relevant props.

The Portrait Pose.

Natural, exaggerated or just funny poses should be coming naturally in the portrait by now, with the subject and you of course, being relaxed. For example, a keen fly fisherman kissing a freshly caught salmon. One tradition when shooting your first Stag, is to have your face smeared with the Stags blood after the Gralloch. Although a little extreme, it would be a portrait not to be forgotten in one’s lifetime. Whether you are shooting a portrait for sports (your first achievement), work achievement or an anniversary, you will never stop learning.

#deer hunting

When you need some advice on portraits without trawling through the search engines, or you want to hire us to create your portrait, speak to our editor about your requirements, u.k. & Europe at pixsellpix@hotmail.co.uk

To conclude, a short story from my earlier portrait experiences.

In the process of creating a portrait, you may be put in an environment you have no experience with, as i was.

Of the many things i enjoy, i Love boats and sailing on a sunny day. It’s the 60 foot waves and the sinking part i am not comfortable with. However…i agreed to do a lifetouch portrait of a man and his boat and on a perfectly sunny day, we set off up the estuary in a race with other yachts to Piel Island near Barrow, Cumbria, England.

There was no wind to speak of as we set off, so we had to “tack” our way up the estuary. This was a new experience for me and i was “volenteered” to do the mainsails. While all this wet rope was sliding through my fingers and taking off about 3 layers of skin, i was thinking,”shouldn’t i be taking some pix”. However…my attempts left a lot to be desired, according to the skipper as he bawled loud instructions at me…heave to and lee way or something, so just kept doing as i was told.

After 30 minutes or so, we where going at a nice steady pace and was starting to turn into the Irish Sea, heading for Morecambe Bay. My host was sat on the left side of the boat, i was on the right side (starboard?). We where sat looking at each other when the wind came from nowhere. Although i was still in a sitting position, i was upright looking down at my host, who was inches from the water. I looked, rather nervously over my right shoulder to see the keel out of the water and my camera bag, lenses, the lot dissappear into the frothing waves. “Jesus Christ we are going to sink mate”, to which my host replied “rubbish…this is what it’s all about mate”.

Good job i took a back up camera. Albeit a bit late, we arrived at Piel Island, took some shots along the way, dropped anchor and enjoyed a few drinks, then rescued some guys who got drunk and couldn’t find their boat. In the morning, the smell of bacon and eggs and the sea air was intense…tasted even better than ever, washed down with hot sweet tea.

I went back in a different, much bigger yacht, so this was another experience for me that i had not anticipated and i had a free hand to take some fantastic shots on the return journey, everything on autohelm. So despite having velvety smooth hands now and my best Nikon, plus a few lenses in a watery grave, i had a result.

New Year photographic inspiration for 2013.

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