Archive for April 15th, 2008

Capture Personality in Your Portraits

April 15, 2008

© Copyright Christina Dickson

Christina Dickson is a portrait photographer and photography instructor who believes the challenge of great portraiture — indeed, what separates good portraiture from the run-of-the mill mall portrait studio product — is that it strives to both capture and reveal personality. Christina is just as quick to admit that this poses a definite challenge for any aspiring portrait photographer, but it’s a challenge she personally finds exhilarating and rewarding.

She advises would-be portrait photographers to focus on the following three rules to improve their work: investigate, observe, and engage.

1. Investigate. Before the shoot, get to know your subject. Ask him or her questions about their respective interests and be open to what they have to say.

2. Observe. Watch for each subject’s tendencies as you interact with them, the small things they each do to express their individuality which, if brought out by you in a photography session, may reveal your subject’s personality.

3. Engage. It’s important to draw the subject out by talking, laughing, and entertaining them throughout your time together. You want to endeavor to be someone with whom your subject feels completely comfortable being herself or himself. Only then are they likely to let down their guard and allow you to capture their true selves.

Consider the photo above of Christina’s client, Caleb. Caleb is an aspiring filmmaker who has always hated having his portrait taken, but he was very happy with this picture because it reminded him of a portrait of one of his filmmaking idols, Mel Gibson.

Read Christina’s full article at

Interested in portrait photography tips? Be sure to read these Photobird Daily articles as well:

Simple Tips for Photographing Children

Bounce Your Flash for Better Photos



Take Your Photos Beyond the Ordinary

April 15, 2008

Wedding photograph, Copyright Matt Adcock

I want to share some of the great photo tips collected by the editors of Popular Photography, based on recommendations from contributing professional photographers, about how you too can improve your photos and move them above and beyond the ordinary.

Here are their top 10 tips:

1. Bird’s-eye view. Wedding photographer Matt Adcock typically mounts his camera on a painter’s pole to get some great bird’s-eye views of the dance floor, like the one featured above. Just one of many ways that you can liven up your camera angles.
2. Shoot faster. Switch to manual focus, prefocus the best you can, and then set your aperture to f/8 or f/11 for a wider depth of field.
3. Preset fill flash. When shooting outdoors, set the exposure control to -1 EV on your DSLR.
4. Flash? You can use portable strobes triggered wirelessly when shooting large exteriors outdoors.
5. Bigger = Better. Quickly find your most detailed photographs by sorting by file size. The larger the file size, the sharper the shot since more detail requires more disk space.
6. Adjust the White Balance preset. You can simulate the subtle shades of sunrise and sunset. Try the tungsten setting to add a bluish early morning cast or the shade setting to make the picture warm and dusky.
7. Portrait advice. Carry some face powder to soften complexions. Use a long lens at maximum aperture to emphasize the subject. Make sure there are no mergers with the background.
8. The eyes have it. When shooting portraits, make sure the eyes are sharp.
9. Slimming techniques. Have your subject stretch their torso by moving one foot backward or turn to face the camera. Shoot from a higher angle to minimize a double-chin. Illuminate the side of the face that’s turned away from the camera, which will put the larger part of the face in shadow resulting in a thinner look.
10. Wear a white T-shirt. A white T-shirt can make a nice reflector and it is less intimidating to your subjects.

Be sure to read the article for 10 more tips!