Learn Portrait Photography
Getting Started with Portrait Photography
Portrait photography is one of the most common and yet misunderstood genres of photography. The standard definition of a portrait is: “a painting, drawing, photograph, or engraving of a person, especially one depicting only the face or head and shoulders.”
However, the real meaning of a portrait is to capture one’s personality in the picture. That is the reason everyone takes portraits but only few are known as great portrait photographers. It was same in the age of painting, from where most of the portrait photography has emerged.
Where to Capture Portrait Photography
Portrait photography can be done in various environments. Like a portrait photography in weddings would be in such environment. For street photography, it will be in the streets or vicinity. An environmental portrait would be where the person works or stays. There is also the studio for all the portrait photography.
Even studio portrait photography could be done in two types of studios, natural light studios or artificial light studios. Portraits are everywhere, you just need to define your genre and get going with it in the correct environment for the portrait.
Choosing a Portrait Camera and Lens
A camera and lens combination for portrait photographers can vary as per the setting. Event and wedding photographers usually prefer a full frame camera because they are supposed to be working in low-light conditions consistently. Full-frame sensors provide for extra cushion of fine image quality at higher ISOs. Generally, any full-frame camera would provide a smoother gradation of depth of field as it goes out of focus, and is preferred.
Portrait photographers usually like to work with lenses having a wide-open aperture value on the lower f numbers. Also, for a mid-length shot, the focal lengths of 85mm and higher are ideal for shooting portraits. 70-200 f2.8 works perfectly on both parameters.
Portrait Photography Project Ideas
To practice portraits, a couple of ideas could work really wonders. They both belong to street photography. The first is proper street photography where you take pictures without trying to let them know if they are in the frame or not. The second is ‘talk-to-the-strangers’, wherein you go and talk to the strangers, get familiarized and then compose environmental portraits of them at work. Both the opposite techniques will help you gain skills that will be useful in all your portrait photography assignments.
Processing Portrait Pictures
Processing portrait pictures can be divided in two different categories – fashion and beauty portraits, and natural portraits. For fashion and beauty portraits, the perfection is the key. Techniques like dodge and burn, frequency separation, and color grading are used and imperfections are removed.
In natural portraits, unless needed, there is a sense of realism and the treatment of the portrait is to bring out the mood and emotions. Toning is an important part of such portraits, and black and whites and monochromes are extensively used.