A Portrait Affair
It is said that a person’s portrait can give you a glimpse into his soul. Conchita Fernandes gives you a few tips to help you in this endeavour.
What was your first image? It would have probably been a photograph of a close friend or a dear family member, essentially a portrait. The cellphone has in fact made this experience even more easier and fun. Moreover, it has reduced the stiff, posed quality that portraits are known for and have made them more personal.
Watch Out for the Background
Barring environmental portraits, it is advisable to keep the background of your subject plain and simple. You want to minimise the viewer being distracted by a colourful or patterned backdrop.
Ambient Light is Good Light
It is best that you stick to natural light as it is the easiest and the most non-fussy light that you can get your hands on. A window or a door will be your subject’s best friend, where there is plenty of light streaming through.
How Close is too Close?
Owing to wide lenses in cameraphones, you have to be wary about how close you are to your subject. Avoid holding the phone parallel to the person’s face. Instead, step back a few paces and shoot. Additionally, place the phone at the level of your subject’s chin, in order to avoid creating a distorted-looking portrait.
Achieving Depth of Field
There is very little that one can do when it comes to shooting a shallow depth-of field portrait when using a cellphone. However, there are several apps that can aid you in this, one being AfterFocus.
Where Should You Place Your Subject?
You don’t always have to include your subject’s entire face in the frame. What you can do is include only a part of the person’s face, and maybe frame it in such a way that it appears on the extreme right or left section of the image. The negative space in the rest of the photograph will deviate the viewer’s attention toward your subject.
To Use Flash or Not?
If you must use flash, make sure that you use a diffuser. This could either be a piece of butter paper or tissue, and will lead to a more softer-looking portrait.
Taking Advantage of Your Conducive Device
On account of the cellphone being a convenient device to hold and carry around, you will find it easier to use in photographing from unusual shooting points. Think more along the lines of capturing an overhead environmental portrait, where the subject is looking up at you, while being surrounded with his/her favourite things.
A portrait can be direct, pleasing and beautiful. But sometimes, a bit of mystery and mood is welcome too.
The Inconspicuous Phone
Of the many features available on the phone, its ability to mute its shutter sound is great. This aspect comes in handy especially when shooting portraits of infants, who are sensitive to even the faintest sound.
This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Better Photography.