5 Tips to Shoot Better Portraits

From preparation to actual shooting, here are five tips to help you better your portrait photography and improve your photoshoot experience.

 Jeremias wears swim shorts from H&M

Jeremias wears swim shorts from H&M

Research

Doing a quick (or extensive, your choice) research before your shoot is essential. Have in mind the theme and the look and feel you want for your shoot, and then create a moodboard by gathering tearsheets from magazines, photos from Instagram, Pinterest or other social media platforms. Use this moodboard for reference (note: reference, not copy).

Communicate

Communication with your model is just as important. Share the moodboard with your model, and talk through the creative process. Let the model have some input on the project, and ask if he/she is comfortable with the theme. This helps to ease the process and makes the shoot more efficient because both parties now have a better idea of what the shoot is about.

 Jeremias wears corduroy jeans from Zara

Jeremias wears corduroy jeans from Zara

Find the Light

If you are doing an outdoor shoot, organise a time that gives you the best light. Shoot between 7am to 11am, or 3pm to 6pm. The light during these hours are flattering on your subject, and especially during sunrise or sunset (the golden hours). Shooting any time between 11am to 3pm will result in heavy shadows under your model’s eyes and nose, and its harsh sunlight is unflattering on your model’s skin (unless you are using an ND filter).

Look For Less Complicated Background

Be careful when you are searching for a background for your shoot. Complementary colours, consistent textures, or a minimalist setting make a great background for your shot. Imagine a complicated graffiti wall or a cluttered environment with a thousand objects – these are distracting elements that could draw your viewer’s attention away from your subject.

 Jeremias wears striped shirt and corduroy jeans from Zara, and underwear from Calvin Klein

Jeremias wears striped shirt and corduroy jeans from Zara, and underwear from Calvin Klein

Keep Shooting

Here’s the real trick: keep trying until you get the shot. Even with a professional model, it is unlikely to get the money shot right away. The first few (or a hundred) photos are just warmup shots for both you and the model. Once you build that connection, you will see the magic unfolds. Sometimes, the millisecond before your model poses is the shot that you want because of its most natural state – so be as ready to shoot as you can.