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Portrait

Choosing between horizontal and vertical framing

When do you rotate the camera for a vertical shot? Horizontal is the default because of the way cameras are designed to be held, but vertical offers different possibilities. This is Monument Valley, straddling Arizona and Utah, and the rock formation is Bear and Rabbit Rocks (the rabbit is a lot more obvious). There are […]

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Leave scene mode behind

When you’re getting to grips with the huge possibilities presented to you by your camera, it might be tempting to stay within the comfort zone of the scene modes, even if you’re brave enough to step away from Auto. But the truth is, even the scene modes don’t afford you anything like the control capable […]

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To make eye contact or not in your portraits?

Direct eye contact is the strongest means of communication we have, so it is no exaggeration to say that the direction of the subject’s eyes in a portrait will have a significant impact on the final look and feel of the image. Photo by Warren Goldswain For head-and-shoulders and closely framed shots, it is the […]

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Landscape or portrait?

Choosing whether to capture your scene vertically or horizontally is a decision you should make based on composition, juxtaposition, and how you wish the elements within the frame to be represented. In the examples shown here of the Golden Temple, the same scene was shot both horizontally and vertically, because at the time deciding which […]

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Flash and full-length portraits

Taking pictures of the full length of a person’s body can be more problematic than it sounds. If they’re stood by a window then the chances are that their face will be lit better than their thighs, and certainly better than their feet. If you move them away from the window the light starts to […]

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The value of spontaneity in portraiture

Children are naturally spontaneous—when they have a thought; they act on it! But as adults we become increasingly cautious and learn not to act on our impulses. Sometimes, some of best decisions that we make are spontaneous ones, and we certainly have more fun when we do something that we have not over-analysed beforehand. The […]

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Creating a painterly portrait

What separates a portrait (even a ‘creative portrait’) from a typical fashion image is the notion of a human element. Fashion images are pictures of clothing that happen to contain people, while portraits are pictures of people whose clothes or adornments are usually immaterial. In a fashion image, the subject is a model; a portrait […]

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The why and how of dodging and burning portraits

Dodging or burning small features can make a big difference to the final image and can often give portraits that crucial finishing touch. Gently burning in the sides of the face can emphasize bone structure and, perhaps rather like applying makeup, can make the person look slimmer. Meanwhile, toning down a man’s receding hairline is […]

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The portrait photographer's lighting guide

As far as equipment goes, it should be remembered that a photographer doesn’t need a top-end DSLR to create stunning portraits. A better camera might allow you to take pictures in lower light, at a faster speed, or with better resolution, but the progression of camera improvements does not necessarily correlate to the success of […]

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Eight elements to visualise when composing your shot

Visualising how you want your photos to look is usually your first and most important step when taking them. Deciding on the story that you want to tell, and how you want to tell it, is something that you’ll start to consider before you’ve even picked up your camera. It’s about thinking about the backdrop, […]

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Capitalising on the unexpected at a photoshoot

Sometimes, your test shoot works out better than the one you actually planned for. This is what happened when Miss Aniela tried out the concept for Riding the Rug. The idea was to shoot a levitation portrait with the subject appearing to ride a magic carpet (or in this case, a rug from the local […]

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Getting great group shots

Posing groups of people for photos can be daunting for the uninitiated photographer (and sometimes for the initiated, too!) but with practice comes confidence and experience in dealing with multiple people in one shot. In terms of posing, they are the same as for any other portrait; look to create pleasing lines, shapes and grouped […]

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