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The art of ‘portrait’ is a very difficult exercise for not only the photographer, but also for the model. Photography can sometimes make both the photographer and the subject feel uncomfortable, or it can appear unnatural or overly-posed. The best scenes to photograph are the most spontaneous ones, but when it comes to actually taking the photo you just can’t capture what you see in reality – it’s frustrating. Here are some tips on how to finally conquer the portrait that you have always dreamed of taking to stop you getting disheartened!

1 – All about the light

Taking portraits at different times of the day helps to keep your portraits fresh and original. Learning to play with light and shadows is the secret to captivating portraits. The perfect brightness is when the scene is in a shady but bright environment. Shadows help bring body and support to your portrait. They emphasise the facial expressions, the features and the intensity of the look. However, avoid taking portraits in full sun because they tend to harden the face. Facing a light that is too strong will inevitably make the subject frown, which creates wrinkles.

Having said this, don’t be afraid to experiment. Try shooting harsh evening light, embrace capturing shadows and use the sun’s rays to warm your photos. We are often afraid of the backlight. However, if used appropriately it can give your portraits a singular and warm luminosity.

Shooting against the light create a halo or halo of light surrounding your subject, giving the impression of purity and innocence:

If light effects don’t scare you and you want to take an original portrait, you can use against-daylight or ‘contre-jour’ in your portraits. This technique is ideal for highlighting the shape of the face or contours of your subject’s body. If your model is intimidated by the lens, a contrast portrait is best, as it transforms the subject into a shadow and looks almost like a sketch, without revealing all of their features.

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