The secret lies in the light
The key to great photographs is having great lighting. A light source at your subject’s eye level is called ‘eyes-off’ lighting. It is natural light, without any artificial light or flashes.
The light source must be positioned at 45 degrees from the face. For head shots and group portraits, use two lights, one on each side of the subject. Place the light about 8 inches away from the lens.
The light should be on high pressure. The intensity of light is measured in f-stops (F). A large aperture such as f/2.8 is used to open the shutter. This allows more light through the lens. A small aperture like f/16 means less light is passing through the lens and less chance of flare or distortion.
Avoid harsh shadows
A light that shines directly onto your subject casts harsh shadows. If you want your subject to appear sharp and clear, avoid shadows. Instead, shoot under a soft box, which diffuses the light and creates a softer, more pleasing look. It is essential to position the light at the same height as the subject’s eyes.
For outdoor images, consider a flashgun. It can be used to fill in dark shadows, but it is less suitable for close-ups.
Background is usually taken for granted. But a great photo is about much more than just the subject. It is also about creating the perfect composition. A well-lit background can make your subjects pop out of the photograph and give it a sense of scale.
If you are taking a portrait in a room, make sure the backdrop is neutral. A white wall can be made to look more interesting by using a bold color like red or orange. If there is no other furniture, you may need to use a plain white sheet or cloth to create the perfect background.
Have a second camera with you. When taking a group portrait, it is easy to forget to include someone in the shot. Keep your camera ready and don’t panic if it takes a few attempts to get the perfect shot.
If you don’t like the first photo, press the button to take another. Your subject will likely be thrilled at the opportunity to pose again.
Shoot a photo of your subject with you. Even if they are distracted, they will appreciate knowing where you are and that you will remember them when it comes to your next photo shoot.
Never miss a moment.
Always be ready. If you don’t know how to get the perfect picture, ask a photographer for help. They can show you how to improve your technique.
It is tempting to push your subject to get the shot. But slow down. Take the time to study your subject. Look for interesting features like the shape of the eyes, the curve of the nose and mouth, the texture of the skin, the contrast of light and shadow, and the color of the clothes.
When it comes to capturing that ‘special moment’, you must wait until your subject is relaxed and happy. It’s important to establish a rapport before the photo shoot, so talk to your subject and ask for permission. If you want to take a photo of your child sleeping, ask if it’s OK first.
Make the most of what you have
Be brave. Ask your subject to do something unusual. Your subject will have a wonderful story to tell when they look back on the photo.
Don’t be afraid to use props or backgrounds. Make use of the objects in your home or garden. Experiment with lighting and angles. Try shooting in black and white to add an artistic quality.
Photographers have the advantage of being able to see what you see. Make the most of it.
Do you have a favorite outfit? Make it the one you will wear on your wedding day.
What will you photograph for years to come? Choose a dress, jewelry, and accessories that match your personality and make you feel confident and beautiful.
Think about the message you want to convey. Do you want to capture an emotion or a simple snapshot of your everyday life? Is it about your relationship with your parents or how you look? Think about how you want to be seen and the photo that will best reflect this.
Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. If you get upset, it will show. Try to stay calm and collected. Don’t lose control.
Don’t think that because it’s only a photo that it doesn’t matter. It matters to you and to those who will be looking at it.
Don’t take risks.
If you are taking a photo of your child, do not pick up a heavy object. Be careful of water, and don’t point the camera at anyone.
Remember, you are capturing a moment in time. It could be a precious memory for you, but it could also be the last.
Don’t get frustrated.
It may be frustrating when you are told to stand still. But your subjects will love the chance to be in the spotlight. Be patient. Remember, there are no accidents. You may have to practice, retry, and do it again.
Use different ways of making the same subject look different. Experiment with different poses, backgrounds, and settings.
Look for a light in the shadows.
You may need to experiment with different exposures to get the best results. You may find that the camera is too bright or that you have overexposed the picture.
Don’t forget the background.
It might not be the main focus of the photograph, but it will be a big part of the final image. Consider what you want to portray and how it will be reflected in the background.