Professional tip: Studio photography

Professional tip: Studio photography

To accentuate the personality of a person, to express feelings or to capture a special moment in time – all this is possible in portrait photography.

Professional tip: Studio photography

Portrait photography - the basic principles

To accentuate the personality of a person, to express feelings or to capture a special moment in time – all this is possible in portrait photography.

In order to be able to fully concentrate on a person and the arrangement of the picture it is important to be familiar with the technology and to consider a few fundamentals.

Here a few tips how you can put anybody in a favourable light:

Tip 1: Perspective view

The correct camera position and the distance are very important for the expression of an image.

Normal perspective view:

In order to depict the model most advantageously and to maintain natural proportions, persons are best photographed at eye level.

One should stick to this rule in particular when photographing children, so that the photo does not give the impression as if one would look down. In this case children would appear even smaller.

Bird's eye view:
When taking photos from a bird's eye view, i.e. from an elevated location, persons appear much smaller than they really are. The resulting image effect is associated with characteristics like weak, anxious or vulnerable.

Worm's eye view:

In contrast to this, if you choose a very low camera position, i.e. the worm's eye view, persons appear much bigger than they really are. This way you can give a person an expression of strength or power, or it may also have a condescending effect.

With this knowledge one can influence the effect of a photo by simply choosing the right perspective view.

But the correct distance is also very important in photography.

The closer one comes to a person, the more the proportions will be distorted, because areas close to the camera appear bigger and more distant areas will be in the background.

A note in the foreground in this case appears very big, while the ears are very small and this is not at all favourable.

In order to keep a suitable distance it is also important to choose the right focal length. The optimal solution is the standard focal length with 50 mm or a light telescopic lens with a focal length of 85mm. Since the image detail is very small with a longer focal length, one will not be tempted to get too close to the person.

Tip 2: The right light

The most important thing in photography surely is the intention to show a person in a favourable light. One generally distinguishes between hard and soft light.

Hard light is generated by a point light source, for example the sun or a studio flash with standard reflector. This results in distinct, sharp edged shadows.

Soft light is generated by a light source with a large surface. In nature this would be caused by a cloud covered sky and in the studio by a Softbox. Soft light also creates shadows. However, these are not sharp edged, but run out softly and diffuse.

Soft light is particularly flattering for a portrait. With its only minor shadow casting it reduces wrinkles and irregularities in the skin. One preferably uses transillumination umbrellas or Softboxes for this purpose.

Hard illumination has a very dramatic effect and emphasizes body forms and set-ups.

High Key

High Key photography is a photographic style with mainly bright tones. The model for this purpose wears bright clothes and photos are taken in front of a white background. Persons with blond hair are mostly favoured.

A soft illumination is used and the image is overexposed by 1 to 2 apertures. The background should also be bright illuminated.

Low Key

The opposition to High Key is Low Key. Here one works with strong contrasts and dark tones are preferred. One mainly uses hard light with strong shadowing, so individual areas will remain fully in the dark.

This illumination technique is often used in nude photography in order to accentuate body forms, or to hide areas that should not be visible.

Illumination is an important artwork tool in photography. There are no fixed rules for the number and positioning of lamps.

The classical illumination consists of a main light and a fill-in light with Softboxes. Here it is important to ensure a light reflex in the eyes, so that the persons appears alive. A round eye reflex, which can be achieved by using Octagon Softboxes, has a particularly natural effect.

From the back a studio flash with spot fixture is used as accented hair light. Especially in front of a dark background this makes sure that the person stands well out against the background.

One or two flashes with background reflector ensure uniform illumination of the background.

Apart from the classical illumination one is obviously free in the arrangement of light.

Tip 3: The right camera settings

To make sure that movements of the model will not become visible as blurring in the image, it is recommended to use a quite short exposure time of less than 1/60s.

The focal depth also plays an important role. In order to direct the focus to the model one chooses a small aperture and therefore a small focal range, so that the background is blurred.

Take your time to take photos and view from behind your camera from time to time. Contact with your model is very important, because very often the persons to be photographed are insecure or do not know how to pose.

If you feel confident with the technology, the person opposite will notice this. Then you can fully concentrate on the model and you will achieve a relaxed situation in which you can capture the right moment for the perfect image.

Besides all the technical prerequisites it is above all the work with the model and your creativity which guarantees good photos.



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