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Portraits with the wow factor

We all know about ‘don’t think shoot’ and it’s a great practice to follow. Sometimes when you’re less conscious of the end result, less precious and less concerned about what the end result will look like, you can often get great results. But sometimes you get quite a lot of ‘not so great’ results. So if you want to ‘think’ before you shoot, what are the key factors that will ensure you end up with a few rools of interesting, classy, shots?


Here are a few tips we’ve put together to help you create that more professional look.

Tip 1: Break the rules of composition.

There are so many do’s and do not’s when it comes to composition. While they are often useful to know you can also experiment with purposefully breaking them. This can lead to eye catching results.

The Rule of Thirds is one that is often effective to break. Placing something in the dead centre can be very powerful. Or try placing your subject right on the edge of your picture to create an abstract sense. Remember, rules are made to be broken.

'Wet' by Jens Hoffmann


Tip 2: Play with eye contact

You’ll be surprised how much the direction of your subject’s eyes can impact on an image. Often we see the  subject looking into the lens and of course, this creates intimacy and a sense of connection with the viewer. But there are other things you can try.

Try looking out of shot. Have your subject focus their attention on something unseen or outside of the field of view. You can create intrigue as the viewer wonders what you’re looking at.

Looking within the frame is also interesting. Try getting the subject to look at someone or something within the frame. A child looking at a dog, a woman staring hungrily at a cream cake, you get the idea. This is a great way to tell a story within the shot and often creates interesting images.

'Kurt, haircut' by Jonathan Howard Kemp


Tip 3: Move your subject out of their comfort zone.

Ok, we all know what happens when you say to someone ‘let me take your photo’ They stiffen, smile at the camera and quickly check their hair is ok. This will ensure your shots are relatively predicable, unless that is, something unexpected happens. Try get them to walk and shoot them as they moving, or running. Ask them to jump in the air and the shot suddenly had energy and movement.

Tip 4: Get up close.
Ditch the wide angle and use a lens with a decent focal length and try photographic parts of your subject. A person’s hand, eyes, the way the corner of their mouth turns up at the edges, there are lots of things you can experiment with. Sometime what is left out of the image can say more than that’s included.

Tip 5: Experiment with light.

There are almost unlimited possibilities when it comes to light. Side-lighting can create texture and mood, backlighting and silhouetting your subject to hide features can be powerful. Low light conditions can be quite experimental and although you can’t always be sure of the end results, when it comes together it can be great.

'Civilized travel' by Mark Goode


Tip 6: Take a series of shots.
Instead of going for single images, keep shooting. Doing this you can create a series of images that can be preented together instead of one static images. Try a montage. It’s a great way to build fun into a shot and provides lots of personailty.

There is soo much you can experiment with, this is just scratching the surface. Get imaginative and get shooting, but don’t forget to share some of the results with us. Keep shooting, AA