Capturing the most stunning portrait is not as easy as pointing a camera at someone and asking them to “say cheese”; and to someone who has never “posed” for a portrait before, guiding them on how to position themselves to achieve the most stunning photograph can be a balancing act (especially if they are children). Comfort, emotion and posture all need to come together to achieve the most flattering pose and in turn, a memorable portrait.
When you book a photo session with Memories by Design, we will work with you during the session to guide you through these 8 steps. Composition and lighting are key elements to any great photograph and we got that part covered, but is that what makes up the best portrait of you? Will you look at this photo and want to share it with friends on social media? These simple steps will help familiarize you with the tricks of the trade that will not only capture your true spirit, but also make you want to share these stunning portrait photos with friends for years to come.
Often overlooked, but an essential component in achieving stunning portraits is ensuring you are comfortable. Open communication and collaboration are key in guaranteeing you not only look great, but are also comfortable and in good spirits. If you are not comfortable, your photo may look great from a composition and/or pose perspective but you may not have a natural look on your face – remember “a picture says a thousand words!” Also, keep in mind, the poses you may be asked to do may not feel 100% natural at first, so we can do a couple test shots to help you truly feel the pose and become comfortable in no time.
Have a look at Karl, you can see in the image on the left that his face is telling us a story. Even though he looks pretty good, it is very clear that he is not comfortable in this pose. The photo on the right is after a few test shots and slight repositioning so he can feel more comfortable and the look on his face says it all.
When we think about positioning, we immediately think to position you based on our light source. When taking portraits, light source is something photographers are always very aware of – Too much light can cause hard shadows and not enough will leave you with a dark dull portrait. Most times, beautiful soft light can be achieved by simply positioning you so light falls over you and not on you. So if we are moving you around a little during our session, it is not because we are working on our new dance moves, it is because we are checking for the best most flattering light. If we are taking portraits outside, mid-day is when the sun is at its highest point in the sky and in turn, produces the most shadows. This is not completely out of the question to book at this time, all the photos in this article were taken with harsh lighting. That being said, we do try to schedule your portrait shoots for early morning or late afternoon as this is when the sun is softer and creates some wonderful light effects that dance over you, creating stunning effects.
As you can see in the first picture on the left, Paige is positioned directly in front of the light! The shadows on her face are not flattering and her watery eyes do not make for a stunning portrait. By simply repositioning her over to the other side of the building, we were able to capture this stunning portrait on the right with beautiful soft light.
Or you can see here how we were able to achieve a beautiful reflective light by simply changing her position to a different angle.
Backgrounds are definitely contributing factors to creating stunning portraits, but please keep in mind, the focus of your portrait is the you and if we are not able to get the backdrop you were hoping for, you can still get a stunning image; and when we are shooting portraits – isn’t that the main goal? If there was a special location you wanted photos in (perhaps a building that holds special meaning for you), let us know during booking so Memories by Design can explore the lighting at the desired time and make arrangements ahead of time to capture you in the best light.
Sitting or standing, big or small – If you are slouching or pulling your head and chin back, with your shoulders up to your ears, this is not going to be the most flattering portrayal of you. The most common complaint about portraits is “I don’t like the way I look in pictures”. We have all heard this more than once from someone we know, right? Well, posture is the key to showcasing your best features and using these techniques will help you appreciate yourself in portraits.
The first thing you want to prevent is slouching – So, back tall & straight, shoulders rolled back and down. This will instantly give you a nice long neck. To further accentuate the neck and jawline, push your chin out slightly and angle your head down. If you press the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, this will also help with the dreaded double chin. Have a look at the before and after shots below to see what a difference these tiny changes made in this portrait.
In this first image on the left, Karl came over to me and sat down without any thought about posture. In his mind, he is ready to have his portrait taken. He does look pretty happy and comfortable, but as you can see, this is not the most flattering photo of Karl. After some coaching and posture awareness, he now has a straight back and a long neck with a defined jaw line. This image on the right of Karl is much more flattering with only a few adjustments.