The 411 on Portraits and Poses

TO MUCH DEPTH OF FIELD?                                                                                             You would think that choosing a small aperture to create extensive depth of field is always such a great idea. If there is too much going on in the background than it takes the focus off your subject. It’s like ” Where’s Waldo”? Try using F/5.6 , it usually produces better results.  If you are still unhappy with the blur in the background ask your subject to step forward a little.

BACKGROUNDS                                                                                                                                                                         A big problem that I happen to notice with some portraits is what is in the background. Unless you want your audience thinking that your subject has a tree growing out your subject’s head I suggest you pay more attention to your surroundings and backgrounds. You can blur out the background but you are better off just taking a few steps to the right or left to have a different background.

SHOOTING FROM THE WRONG HEIGHT                                                                                                                                 Shooting from the wrong height is another problem that some photographer have,mostly beginners. If the subject is a child you want to get down on the ground or low enough that you are at eye level with your subject. If you want to emphasize how small your subject is than you would shoot from a higher level. You never want to shoot looking up to your subject or else you are going to get an up the nose shot.

RED EYE A PROBLEM?                                                                                                                                                             Red eye is a biggie as well. Due to the flash being bounced back off of your subjects retina and into the camera will cause the red-eye effect. The best cure is to move the flash away from the lens. Most DSLR cameras have a red-eye corrector in menu.

DETAILS                                                                                                                                                                                     Details are another issue. Yes, of course you want your subject’s eye to be sharp but you do not want to much emphasis on their flaws. Shooting in Raw can help and then you can process them.

                                                                                 POSING MISTAKES                                                                            

Do you keep getting unflattering images ? So many rules have gotten thrown out over the years but it does not hurt to still keep some of them in mind when it comes to posing for the cameras.

Is you subject a little uneasy in front of the cameras? Is he/she camera-shy?                                                                              Most likely if your subject is uncomfortable than it will show in the shoot. Try talking to them before their shoot. You will be amazed on just how much a little conversation can help them become more comfortable in front of the camera. Also ,getting to know your them relaxes them as well. When something starts to work , let them know.

Another mistake that happen a lot especially with inexperienced models is ‘limp hands’ Most inexperienced models do not know what to do with their hands. If they are wearing pants that have pockets tell them to put their hands in the pockets or the thumbs and see what a difference it makes.

Shoulders are another problem in a shoot as well. Shoulders are the widest part of out body so having your subject turn slightly can have a huge impact on their portrait.

Straps marks showing? ugh! no one like unsightly strap marks it is very unflattering. If your subject is going to be posing in a strapless dress or a halter top make sure to tell them to wear loose-fitting clothes before hand. This way you do not see the strap marks!

Looking in the wrong direction is my biggest pet peeve. Unless I ask you to stare into the camera lens , I want  you looking somewhere else. You want your subject to look into space of find something that catches their interest, this way it looks and feels more natural. My daughter has this thought that she should always look into the camera and when I tell her to look away she only moves her eyes not her whole head, and I am not just talking a slight movement of the eyes ,that would be fine. So it looks really weird!

If you are shooting a group of people do not have them stand all at the same height. Have one sit in a chair , the other on the floor and one behind the chair or slightly behind the chair with their hand on the back of it. It creates an interesting dynamic.

Children and posing ? It is very difficult to get your child to actually pose or even sit still for a few shots. You are very lucky if they do sit still. GIve them something that will distract them while taking a few shots.

Portraits can be a lot of fun but if you make these mistakes it might just look a mess. So hopefully I have helped you out just enough for your family to ask you this season…. ” WOW. What photographer did you use to take these Family Christmas photos?” Now you can say ‘ ME ‘ . Have fun and click away my friends and please feel free to show off your work of portraits!


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