Make the most of your available background
How much backdrop do you need?
You need a large expanse of backdrop for full-length portraits, and the sides of industrial units are great for giving you the wash of colour you need.
But with head-and-shoulder shots you can make do with much smaller areas of colour or texture.
If you find an area you want to use as a background and there is not much of it, shoot from further back with a longer telephoto zoom setting so that even a small door or bin lid will fill the frame.
Soften the background with a wide aperture
Makes sure your subject is positioned a few feet in front of the backdrop, and use the widest aperture your lens allows (typically between f/2.8 to f/5.6) in Av mode.
These two tricks will ensure that the background is slightly unsharp, so the subject stands out. However, it’s essential to ensure you have the lens focused accurately on the person’s eyes.
How to compose faces
When framing close-up portraits, it is easy to end up with your subject’s head sitting squarely in the centre of the frame.
It’s better to give your subject room to breathe – and to include more of the beautiful backdrop you have found!
A simple posing trick is to get your model to stand with their shoulders at a 45° angle to the camera and wall, then to turn their head or eyes to face the camera. Leave more space on the side of the frame their body is facing, and less behind them.
PAGE 1: How to simplify a scene
PAGE 2: How to pick out interesting photos
PAGE 3: Where to find the best photo opportunities
PAGE 4: Look for patterns in nature
PAGE 5: Walk around your subject
PAGE 6: Shoot portraits on the street
PAGE 7: Make the most of your available backgrounds