A portrait photograph is one in which the face and expression of the subject is given predominance. It reveals the personality, mood and the expression of the subject. A perfect portrait will speak about the subject. It will ‘tell’ the viewers the unique mannerisms, the attitude and other elements of the person photographed.
To make a great portrait there are many things to be considered. The first and foremost thing is that the photographer should understand the subject thoroughly. There are people who wear their heart on their sleeve, but there are those also, who don’t openly show out their inner feelings. In short, they hide their true self under the garb of pretense. It is difficult to understand such people. Hence, the best way to break the ice is by engaging them in conversation. The photographer should talk to the subject and understand them and also try to find out their likes and dislikes.
Adrift by Luís S. Tavares
Once you have understood the subject, half the job is done. This builds up a rapport between the photographer and the subject and gives the subject an opportunity to relax and be themselves. Portraits taken thereafter will come out natural. The subject will be at ease and will project their true self. Once the subject is comfortable in front of the camera and in your presence, you can go ahead and shoot.
Don’t rush – be patient. Some people might capture the best picture in the first go itself, but sometimes you may need to click several times to get the right shot.
To gain the subject’s confidence, the photographer themselves should have poise and be cool. They should exude this confidence to make the subject relax and give the best shot.
Janelle Jalila Issis – Natural light portrait / Outdoor Portrait by Bahman Farzad
There are other things also to be considered for capturing a perfect portrait. Use natural lighting as far as possible. If using artificial lighting, play with it; highlight the features of the person and bring out the best. To give a different perspective to the picture, use side lighting, backlighting and silhouetting.
The subject need not always look into the lens while shooting a portrait. The photographer should be thoughtful and give the subject something to look at, which will take the subject’s eyes off the camera, giving a new look to the portrait.
Keep the background simple and the subject in brighter shade to draw the attention of the viewer towards the subject.
Try taking shots from different angles. For a change, alter the position of the subject; keep them on the edge of the picture, instead of the centre.
Use a fan and create wind and let this wind blow the subject’s hair, which might add sensuality to the portrait. If desired, use a prop. You can hide a part of the face using a cloth or something similar in order to incite the imagination of the viewer.
Entangled by Luís S. Tavares
Apart from close-up facial portraits, there are environmental portraits which give a story of the subject by capturing the subject with his background. Then there are upper body portraits, wherein you can include a little bit of the background.
Just a look at the picture itself should allow the viewer to interpret the personality of the person photographed. Such should be the charm of the portrait.
There are no hard and fast rules to click a perfect portrait. Practice makes everything perfect.