Since it’s all about taking people’s photos, a portrait photographer should possess a genuine interest in people that would eventually become their subjects. They should care about people and are natural conversationalists to break the ice.
Above all else, portrait photographers should also possess the skill to observe their subjects’ characteristic gestures and expressions and can easily identify a person’s best side and angle.
If you think you have what it takes to be a portrait photographer, then you should familiarize yourself with the different areas of portraiture. Basically, there are different types of portrait depending on the usage or purpose.
Some of the common categories in which portrait photography falls into include amateur portraits of friends and family, photos of people in a social gathering, editorial portraiture where pictures are taken by photographers for newspapers, magazines and other publications’ use, fine art portraiture where photos are taken specifically for display in museums and galleries, formal portraits where subjects pose for the purpose of a photograph and informal portraits or ‘action shots’ where the subjects do not intentionally pose for the camera.
THINGS TO CONSIDER AND RECONSIDER
Many photographers would agree that the intention of the photographer is what sets a photograph apart from a portrait. If you would want to try portrait photography, here are some of the things you might want to consider:
1. Camera. In portraiture, any 35mm SLR (single-lens-reflex) are fine. If you can afford a Digital SLR, it’s better because you can save on film and processing. Never opt for a zoom point and shoot because it can’t provide sharp outline and accurate results.
2. Lenses. There will be times that you need to emphasize or de-emphasize a specific feature of your subject at a certain distance. These are what the different kinds of lenses are for—to highlight or conceal any good or bad feature of the subject.
Many professional photographers suggest 300mm or 600mm lenses but for starters, typical portrait lenses that are between 90 and 135 millimeters long for 35mm cameras are okay. Nikon 105/1.8 (MF only), Canon 100/2 USM, and Canon 135/2 USM are some of the recommended portrait lenses available in the market.
3. Film. Since digital cameras no longer require the use of rolls of film, this should not be a big trouble for you. All you need is to look for a good compact flash that has high memory to produce high-resolution photos. But if you have a manual or SLR camera, purchase black and white and color films to provide choices to your clients.
4. Location. An ideal location for any portrait photography shoot is a studio. Aside from providing enough working space to work at, having a photo studio also ensures the safety of your equipment. But if you can’t set up a studio yet, it is advisable to find a space that can provide you a working area.
In setting up a studio, consider the rental cost, size, accessibility to target market and the facilities offered. If you take environmental portraits, you wouldn’t need a studio that much because your shoots will depend on the surroundings that create great impacts on your subject.
5. Lighting. If you have a portrait studio, consider the sources of light that would flatter your subjects. If your shoot is outdoors, it is advisable to choose an overcast day to avoid shadows in your photos.
Watch our portrait photography video