Tag Archives: Techniques

Ten simple ideas to help your portraiture improve



Straight forward portraiture advice is difficult to come by…

In the video we have some great ideas that help you to map out a great Portraiture session. This is straight advice aimed at getting you to a good quality completed portrait as directly as possible.

I have to add that the book advertised in the video is also a great book. It is packed with some excellent ideas and written in a simple and easy-to-read way. If you are interested in following up on the book I can highly recommend it. My copy is pretty dog-eared these days!


Portrait and Candid Photography: Photo Workshop This is a great book packed with lots of hints, tips and ideas like the ones below. A really worthwhile read.


Ten points at the core of good portraiture

In the video Erin Manning highlights the importance of the following ten points…

  1. Don’t fix your subject in the middle of the frame. Instead, think about the rule of thirds – a more dynamic outcome.
  2. Poses and “cheesy” words to force a smile are false and make the photo look strained.
  3. Make your clothes simple and un-distracting. Forget patterns and fussy details. Simple solid colours help the subject to stand out, not the clothes.
  4. Avoid straight on shots with a big flash. The open pupil in the eye will cause light to reflect back to the camera and show bright red eyes… You don’t want your subject to look like red-eyed monsters. Use red-eye reduction settings if your camera has them.
  5. Vary your poses, angles and heights. The more angles you get the more you are telling a story about your subject. Get them in many different ways.
  6. Use flash to help reduce harsh shadows. The sharp sunlight of the middle of the day is very unflattering. The use of fill-in flash softens the shadows bringing out the subjects character.
  7. Look for great quality of light. Remember that hard light (harsh edges and strong contrasts) is very unflattering. Shoot in the later afternoon or early morning to get soft light with better colours. Use shade to reduce hard light if you are forced to work in bright mid-day light.
  8. Don’t stand too close and use a wide angle lens. This exaggerates the nose. Stand away and zoom in. This reduces nose size and is much more flattering. (Great advice).
  9. Pay attention to the background. If it is too busy make sure there is nothing distracting. Check to make sure the background has not created odd effects like poles sticking out of heads and flowers in ears!
  10. Make sure you have enough battery capacity and memory card space to cover the whole session. You don’t want to lose any shots when you are in full swing.
Erin Manning’s Top 10 Dos and Don’ts for Great Portraits

Erin Manning

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

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Do you make these three style mistakes?

• Soaring •

• Soaring •
If you want to develop your style – see the world a different way.
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• Soaring • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

Your personal style defines your photography.

When you start out in photography your style takes time to develop. However, you can easily stifle your photographic style if you don’t develop your photographic skills. You can avoid the problem by paying attention to these three key issues.

1. Little photographic experience

You can take thousands of pictures and still have little photographic experience. It is easy to do lots of pictures about the same type of thing. After a while this becomes boring and your pictures will become mundane or clichéd. It is easy to get into a rut and find your personal style stops developing. This happens even if you are photographing something you really find interesting.

Solution: Find new techniques to take photographs of your interest. To break out of a style rut you can easily change your technique. Here are some ways to do it…

  • Try a different lens… keep using it to force yourself to take new perspectives
  • Develop particular themes – Colour, shape, size, distance, angle
  • Use online tutorials to develop a new approach
  • Do a Google search on your image interests to see how others approach the subject
  • Discuss your interests with another photographer with different interests to get a new perspective
2. Limited range of photographic techniques

Lots of photographers beginning to develop their style are limited by the range of techniques they know. To take a different perspective it helps to extend your photographic skills. Here are some examples of techniques you can use change your photographic viewpoint…
Learn to manipulate Depth of Field – try these links to start you off:
Depth of field – a powerful photographic tool
An easy lesson in beautiful bokeh
One big change – one easy step forward (depth of field)
Controlling the Depth of Field (DoF) – Three Tips
Learn about action shots and panning – check out the resources here: Action shots – how to…
Try out night photography of your subject. Here is a resource page: Night Photography
There are lot of other resources on Photokonnexion. Check out the “Articles” section in the menu on the top of each page. Also you could try the “Categories” section up there too. They both offer different perspectives for resources on this site.

3. Poor understanding of composition and light

Both composition and light have a key role to play in your photographic style and how you approach your subject. You can follow up on some easy lessons in understanding light and compositional techniques from this site too. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Key lessons in composition are:
Rule of thirds
Key lessons in understanding light:
Six things to know about light
Three little known facts about shadows
Light, a Little Difference Makes a Big Impact (Hard and soft light example).
There are further links on the bottom of each page to help you follow up on more ideas.

Developing your style and skill go together

If you want to develop your own style, change your style if you are in a rut or just have wider experiences in photography – then learn more. As you develop your skills and take into account wider perspectives you will broaden your experience. You will have more fun too!

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.