Tips for Taking Better Portraits

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We have all seen stunning portraits. Nowadays, with the prevalence of online dating and social networking sites, it behooves you to have at least a few stellar pictures of yourself on hand. Whatever your motivations, there are a few tips you can follow to get beautiful and radiant portraits.

Use shallow depth of field
The most successful pictures had shallow depth of field. This entails having the person in sharp focus while the rest of the picture is a bit blurry. You can achieve this by opening your camera's aperture wide. It focuses the attention on the subject and makes it seem as if they simply capture the spotlight wherever they go.

Choose natural lighting over flash
It's much better to use natural lighting instead of your camera's flash. Even if you have a great camera, natural lighting will make the subject look better. Flashes are harsh and can create unflattering portraits. Instead, try to take pictures in rooms with complementary lighting. If shooting outside, try to capture your subject during the first and last hour of the day’s sunlight. Sunrise and sunset provide a softer light that results in warmer and more attractive hues for environments and people. This space of time is sometimes referred to as the golden hour.

Try different perspectives
With most portraits, the photographer stands about eye level and snaps the picture at around the same distance. Although this can yield great results, you should try experimenting. Overhead perspectives are underused and can create remarkable pictures. This perspective is so neglected that people will notice if you use it.

Give the subject something to do
In many portraits, the subject is simply looking into the camera. This can work really well, but try giving the subject a prop or something to do. People can look cool when they are playing a sport, walking a dog or talking on the phone. Too many pictures have the subject looking straight into the camera. Do something to break the monotony.

Take candid shots
Candid shots are similar to pictures that give the subject something to do, only this time the subject should ignore the camera all together. Just go out, do something and try to forget about the camera. If the person in the picture doesn't care about the picture, they won't appear to be trying too hard. Create an atmosphere that makes it seem as if the subject is simply living his or her life.

Experiment with the subject's gaze
Not all pictures should look the same. If you are taking a series of photos, have the person look away, then at the camera and at something within the frame. Keep experimenting. Sometimes, the best ideas will be the ones that just happen — pictures that aren't premeditated.