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How to take a beautiful portrait: shooting options and techniques
How to take a beautiful portrait: shooting options and techniques

Many photography lovers dream of improving their level of professionalism, they want to learn how to shoot beautiful landscapes or original still lifes. Yet, the most common genre in photography is the portrait. This article will discuss how to properly shoot a portrait. Consider its different types, analyze the technique required for this genre, and determine the lighting conditions necessary for a correct portrait.

Technical part

What lenses to shoot a portrait? Let's start our analysis by looking at the photographer's technique for a portrait. Of course, there may be various options for kits that are necessary or suitable for this genre. The simplest and most budget kit for shooting a portrait is a 50 mm "whale" lens with an aperture of 1, 8. Every company has such a lens, and this is a great option for creating a portrait. This is a fast lens that will allow you to shoot even in low light conditions at fairly low ISO settings. This is very important, since one of the main criteria for a high-quality portrait is the sharpness of the picture, and with lower ISO values, we get less noise.

In addition, this glass allows you to blur the background well, helping us to use the method of highlighting the main thing in the frame using depth of field. These lenses are in different price categories. Prices range from 4 thousand rubles to 20 thousand rubles, depending on the manufacturer. The 50 mm lens is designed mainly for shooting half-length portraits.

Lens 50mm

The next option is 85 mm with the same aperture value, designed for close-up portraits. Thanks to its aperture, it helps to shoot in low light conditions, creating a beautiful bokeh effect. This glass is also "whale", so almost all manufacturers have it, but its cost is no longer as attractive as the previous lens. Prices start at 20 thousand rubles and can reach 100 thousand.

These were the budget versions of each manufacturer in portrait photography. Let's move on to more expensive options. Each brand of photographic equipment has its own line of professional equipment. For example, Canon has L-series lenses, Sony has G-master lenses. These lines of equipment are positioned as professional, having a better, sharper, three-dimensional picture, brighter color reproduction. In addition, lenses in these series have even larger apertures, such as 1.4 and 1.2. They allow you to further blur the background and shoot in even lower light conditions. Of course, a high-quality portrait can also be shot with a "whale" lens, but more on that later.

Shooting techniquestreet portrait

So, let's start to figure out how to take a portrait on the street. The most important and important thing you need to know about shooting this genre is timing. It should be understood that the most important criterion for you should be light. Therefore, you should not shoot in daylight, it is best to plan your shooting in the morning or evening hours, when the sun is at its dawn or sunset stage. The question arises: why is it so? It's very simple: in the daytime, the light is at its zenith, so the sun gives a hard light, giving very harsh shadows. During sunset or sunrise, the light becomes softer and more conducive to taking a good portrait. However, if you're having trouble scheduling your photo at sunset or sunrise, there are some tricks for daylight photography.

How to take a portrait with one Zamorin flashlight or some other? In fact, everything is simple here, the principle is the same: you take a flashlight and highlight your face. The aperture is maximally open, the exposure is controlled by the shutter speed.

bokeh effect

Border of light and shadow

Use a border of light and shadow. What it is? On a sunny day, you should look for a place where there is a shadow cast by a building, tree, or some other large object. You have to put the model in the shadow so that there are 1-2 steps left to the border. How it works? Asph alt is a large reflector, the sun's rays fall on the ground, are reflected from the floor and thereby scatter light on the model, smoothing out vertical shadows onher face. That is, asph alt in this case is a large reflector and diffuser. Light diffusers can also be used. Most often they are sold in a set with a silver and gold reflector, but this requires an additional cost.


Shoot wide open. This is especially important in street portraits, as when the aperture is open, we get a blurry background. Thus, we sort of remove all unnecessary information from the background of our photo, for example, passers-by, cars, or some kind of flaws in the location where you are shooting. In addition to the bokeh effect, the advantage of an open aperture is that it reduces the amount of noise in the photo, as more light enters the camera's sensor. And in order to reduce this amount, you either decrease the ISO value or decrease the shutter speed. In turn, a slower shutter speed reduces the chance of getting a blurry photo. There is such a theory that in order to reduce the "shake" you need to set the aperture no more than the focal length of the lens, that is, if the lens has a focal length of 50 mm, the shutter speed should be no more than 1/50. In fact, it is up to you to decide what shutter speed to set, since this parameter is purely individual and depends on the person.

Depth of field

How to take a portrait with a whale lens

And now it's time to find out about the very secret. How to shoot a portrait with "whale" lenses. First, set your lens to its maximum focal length,for 18-55 mm models, choose a focal length of 55 mm. Fully open the diaphragm. Set it to the smallest value for this focal length, most often for a “whale” this is aperture with a value of 5, 6. Shoot from the closest possible distance that suits your type of portrait, but this effect works best when shooting a half-length or front portrait.

But it is worth remembering that an open aperture makes the picture softer and you will not get the so-called "ringing" sharpness at these values. So add sharpness to your photos while processing with Alien Skin Exposure 6 plugin. Its algorithms are the best at sharpening.

How to shoot a group portrait

In general, the technique is almost the same as shooting a street portrait, except that you need a lens with a shorter focal length. A 35 mm lens is ideal for this purpose, but a 50 mm lens can be dispensed with. What aperture should I shoot portraits at? In a group portrait, it is recommended to hold down the aperture a bit to get more sharpness at the edges of the frame, as it is important that each person is in focus and sharpness. This is where all the differences are, on the camera side.

group portrait

The light will depend on what you want the result to be. If you want a reportage group portrait, then you don't really need to highlight the background. Let it be what it really is. Agree that a portrait in a dark key will look better if onThe event will be quite warm, chamber lighting. But if you need to shoot, for example, a school class, then you will need to highlight the background, create the so-called fill light. To do this, you can use two flashes with umbrellas in the light, which will paint the faces of children with soft light, while the background will be quite dark. You can use one flash with a pop reflector that needs to be pointed up. When activated, the light will bounce off the ceiling, filling the background with light, while the reflector will draw faces. It is worth remembering that in this case the light falling on the faces will be hard, there will be no smoothness of the picture. Light schemes can be set in different ways, so experiment and try different schemes.


And the last aspect that remains to be sorted out is how to shoot a portrait in a studio. Studio shooting is a very difficult and complex process. It requires a huge amount of various equipment: synchronizers, flashes, pulsed light sources. Most often, studios have in their arsenal a certain supply of pulsed light sources, various nozzles for them, synchronizers, and paper backgrounds. But how to arrange light schemes is of interest to many. But we will start with the device and setting up impulse sources.

Studio portrait

Impulse device and camera setup

Firstly, you need to find the average value of the impulse power, for this we find its minimum value. Let it be somewhere 1, 0. And we find the maximum value, for example8.0. Then the average power of this source will be 3.5. Next, you need to set this value, now it has become our starting point. Subsequent brightness adjustments will have to be made from this value. The flash light has two lighting elements: the modeling light and the flash itself. The modeling light shows you how roughly the light will lie on your model in order to set the right light.

Let's quickly go through the camera settings. Most often, for shooting in studios, photographers use a shutter speed of 1/125 and a ISO of 100 units. Why such an excerpt? Everything is very simple. If you set the shutter speed faster than 1/125, we will see that part of the shutter is visible in the picture, as it simply has time to close before the flash fires.

Light schemes

The main light should be above the model at an angle of about 45 degrees because that's how sunlight shines. That is, we imitate a natural light source by directing light from above in a natural way. Moreover, if it is set farther from the model, we will get a harder light, similar to the sun.

Portrait in a studio with one light source

This lighting scheme is not very suitable for portrait photography, it can be upgraded if a diffuse octobox is put on the main light source. Then the light falling on the model will be softer and more pleasant. It can be positioned both on the side and in front of the model. By placing the light in front of the model, we get more extensive work, since with such light it is possible to direct the facemodels in all directions. With side lighting, it is best to point the model's face at the source, and look at the camera, so we get rid of the shadows that appear on the face. If we set the light in front of the model and direct her face, for example, to the right, then vertical shadows will form on the left side of the face. These shadows can be minimized by adding another light source, which will be on the side where the shadows appear. The second light source should be weaker than the main one. Because if their values ​​are the same, you will get a very flat picture without shadows at all, which will look unnatural. Remember that you can always correct the exposure by moving the model or changing aperture values.

How to shoot a male portrait in a studio? Most often, for shooting a male portrait, hard light of low power is used. In order to emphasize the facial features of a man, use a lighting scheme with a single pulsed source on the side of the model.

How to shoot a portrait on iPhone

How to take a picture of a portrait on an iPhone? The first step is to wipe the camera lens of your smartphone. To take a portrait on an iPhone, you can use both the standard camera app and a third-party app, such as the ProCam app. In this application, you can manually change ISO, shutter speed, and white balance settings. The advantage of the standard application, starting from the seventh model, is the presence of a portrait mode that can create an artificial "bokeh", thereby simulating the portrait lens of a SLR camera. If you haveSince there is a reflector in the weapon, you can take an assistant with you who will hold it so that the light falls on the model softer.

Don't forget about the rules of the border between light and shadow. They also work for shooting with a smartphone. Use a tripod in low light conditions to reduce possible vibrations. Use a grid, this grid, according to the rule of thirds, shows where it is better to place the main objects in the frame. It is best to place the model at the intersection of the grid lines. Pay attention to the facades of buildings, parks, alleys, all this will help decorate the composition of your picture.

Portrait on "iPhone"

A few words in conclusion

The article provided information about shooting portraits. Now it’s clear how to take a portrait beautifully. You just have to master this knowledge and try your hand on your own. Do not sit at home, train, experiment, consolidate knowledge. It doesn't matter what lens or camera you have. You can take a beautiful portrait with your phone. Nothing is impossible. Without practice and the desire to photograph, you will not achieve the desired result.

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