When we think of traditional family portraits or head shots, we tend to think of posed shots of people in a studio or standing outside and smiling. While there's certainly a reason for those types of photos, as a photographer who's always in search of something new, I always strive to do more. Every person being photographed has a personality that needs to shine through. The moment your capturing has a mood that needs to be clearly portrayed in the photo. Here are some ways to capture portraits that stand out from the pack.
CREATE A MOOD WITH LIGHTING
The intent of this shot, depicting a musician deep in thought, was to create some mystery behind his emotion. The lighting was far from traditional portrait lighting, because we wanted a slightly edgier look that set the mysterious mood. We used a smoke machine to add ambience to the room, and posed him to slightly obscure his face. This leaves the viewer wondering just what he's thinking.
MIX FORMAL WITH FUN
For this shot, we had our model dressed elegantly and placed her in a small music venue that is much less formal. This juxtaposition technique makes for an compelling photograph.
ADD SOME ACTION
Put some movement into your photo. This image of a child on a tire swing brings energy to the portrait, and the low wide angle lets the viewer understand the entire scene.
CHANGE YOUR ANGLE
Not all portraits need to be taken from a traditional angle...especially with kids. They tend to be moving and playing, so get down on the floor and try a new angle!
LET THE SETTING SET THE TONE
In this shot of a steel mill worker, I carefully chose the setting to communicate the company's strong loyalty to the USA. What's in the background can speak volumes. Choose your setting wisely.
LIVE ON THE EDGE
Don't be afraid to take photos that push the limits or even make some people uncomfortable (like my wife was when she saw my son with a machete). This shot captures the free spirited, tough guy personality of my son, and it was taken by my older son, which makes me a proud papa! :)
I hope this post inspires you to push your limits and try new photography techniques. It's amazing what you can create when you push past your comfort zone.
Brant Waldeck is a North Carolina-based cinematographer, photographer and creative guy who lives to create.