Have you ever looked through a portrait posing guide?
What images attract you the most on first impact?
For me it is always that eye contact. Done right, it is nothing but magic.
Have a look at a magazine cover that you may have close by, chances are the eyes of the subject are looking straight at you.
This is no mistake, eye contact is dramatic and attention getting.
Changing the Mood of your Portrait
However you may want to change the mood of the portrait, and it can be done quite easily by changing the direction of where the subject is looking. Now he or she may look thoughtful, sad, tense, demure, sexy etc., the direction of the eyes can convey a multitude of other messages. Some examples are if the subject is gazing into the distance the viewer may feel a sense of purpose, what is he or she looking, waiting for. If the subject is looking down he or she may be lost in thought and if you want to convey the a feeling of positive hope and optimism, have the subject look upwards. If you have two or more people in your portrait, have them look at each other for a deep feeling of connection.
If you don’t think you are getting the message across when you are shooting, think about changing the angle you are shooting from, this can make a huge difference. Shoot up high and the subject can look weaker, shoot down low and the feeling of power comes into the shot. Shooting straight on gives the audience a great connection with the subject, especially if the eyes are looking directly to the lens. Impact! Impact! Impact!
Catchlights are a must!
If you cannot see the catch lights in the eyes of your subject, the images will be dead. Catchlights are the small specular highlights that you can see reflected in your subjects eyes. It’s those catchlights that can really make a huge impact.
Ensure you focus on the Eyes
No matter at what aperture you are shooting on, you must ensure the focus is on the eyes, especially if they are looking straight to you. Try the spot focus mode on your camera. It works really well. I personally changed to back-button focusing technique some time back, by using that I have found that my images are almost always spot on and it works for the way I shoot very well.
Add a Touch of Magic.
In your post processing workflow you can use actions in photoshop to add a sparkle and highlight the eyes. Remember to just add a bit, too much and you can make a very beautiful image scary! If you are not sure step away from the image for a while and when you return see take a look at the eyes and if they immediately seem too sparkly or too white then you have gone too far. In this instance a simple lift with the action is the best.
Next week, I will share with you how I set my camera to back button focusing.
‘never stop learning – this is where you will find your contentment’