Close-up portrait photography: capturing textures
Take a photo of a patch of skin with front lighting, and you’ll find that it doesn’t look very interesting.
Take it with strong side or back light and, depending on the angles, there’s a good chance it will come alive, but it still won’t display a lot of variety.
While human bodies and faces have all kinds of interesting potential textures, getting them to stand out in a macro shot can be trickier than it looks.
If you shoot from too close, you’ll abstract the texture from its surroundings, and an abstract patch of skin doesn’t have enough detail to hold a viewer’s attention on its own.
If you shoot from further away, you’ll find that other elements – limbs, faces, other body parts – start to dominate. So there are three ways to make textures work for you.
You can mix them with other elements, you can put them in a surprising context, and you can also use unusual lighting – such as harsh side lighting, back lighting, or coloured lighting – to make them more prominent.
But why bother with texture at all? It’s often overlooked, and it can easily add interesting visual spice to macro images.
The ideal close-up portrait photography includes a mix of interesting body close-ups with emotional impact and eye-catching textures.
Wrinkles are the most obvious textures you can use, but facial hair, head hair, tattoos and piercings can all help to produce an unusual but effective result.
The goal is visual surprise, so think outside the box and try to combine all of the available elements to give a viewer something they haven’t seen before.
PAGE 1 – Close-up portrait photography: capturing colour and detail
PAGE 2 – Close-up portrait photography: Getting accurate flesh tones
PAGE 3 – Close-up portrait photography: capturing textures
PAGE 4 – Close-up portrait photography: how to compose faces
PAGE 5 – Close-up portrait photography: using light and shadow
PAGE 6 – Close-up portrait photography: using props
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