Classic Portrait Ideas for Men and Women
Most proper portraits are shots of individuals taken in a controlled environment, composed and lit carefully to show off their best features.
Everyone wants to look their best for these official portraits, and it’s your job as the photographer to make sure that they do. Or at least, the subject sees it that way. You may have different ideas.
Portrait photography isn’t just about making someone look their best, it’s also about capturing something of their character, life and surroundings. You’re trying to say more about people than simply what they look like.
This can mean treading a narrow line between unrealistic flattery and warts-and-all realism. It’s up to you how you want to blend these two conflicting requirements!
Bear in mind that many people won’t like how they look in photographs whatever you do, and they’re not photographers themselves so they may not be best placed to judge how good the photograph is.
Ultimately, your best guide will be your own instincts and those of friends, family and impartial observers.
By all means take all the shots the subject wants during the sitting, but take a few of your own too, so that you can compare and contrast them later.
Your lighting, poses and compositional approach are likely to be different depending on whether you’ve got a male or female subject.
It’s a terribly sexist observation, but most people (including the subjects) prefer female portraits to have a softly lit, smooth-toned quality.
You certainly won’t achieve that with on-camera flash. It’s far too limited and harsh for that purpose. You could invest in a home studio setup, or you could rely on natural lighting and a good tripod to prevent camera-shake if you’re shooting indoors.
It’s worth checking to see if your subject has a good side. No-one’s face is truly symmetrical so why not ask – someone who’s been regularly photographed before is likely to be able to tell you whether their face is best shot from a certain angle.
Portraits can be set up indoors or outdoors. Indoors you have less light but more control; outdoors you’ve got more light but less control.
Outdoor portrait photography is generally easier because you can just point and shoot, but unless you compose the shot very well, they tend to look more like the work of an amateur.
Finally, pay close attention to the backdrop – it needs to complement your subject and not distract from them. You can use a blank wall to get this effect.
PAGE 1: Classic Portrait Ideas for Individuals
PAGE 2: Classic Portrait Ideas for Men and Women
PAGE 3: Lighting ideas for portraits of men
PAGE 4: Classic Portrait Ideas for Older Subjects
PAGE 5: Classic Portrait Ideas for Couples
PAGE 6: Ideas for Official Portraits
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