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Portrait photos. My tips. July 12, 2006

Posted by Paul Rees in flickr.

Another user, PSEFrank, on flickr commented on my collection of portrait photos, saying that he wished he could take portraits as good as mine.

I don’t consider myself a good photographer, however I’ve learned a few things that work well for me, and I decided to respond to the user with some tips. I thought that I might also publish them here. Real photographers will probably cringe, but I don’t care.

Anyway to the portrait tips.

The truth is I have a lot to thank Photoshop Elements 4 (PSE4) for the results. These tips may be unorthodox, I really don’t have a reference point, but they work for me.

There are a few things I’m particular about when taking the portrait photo:

1. Get in close to the subject. Often my subjects complain that I’m too close. I ignore those protests.

2. Don’t always position your subject in the centre of the frame. Off centre often work better. See cropping below.

3. Take a lot of shots (at least 2, I usually do 6 or more) then you can choose the best later for work with PSE4.

4. Be bossy with your subjects. Tell them to sit still, shut up and think of something they find pleasurable. Getting the right facial expression is really hard.

5. By trial and error work out what camera settings work best for portraits. I find that with my camera close up mode can work better than portrait mode.

Then with PSE I usually do the following:

1. Crop, crop, crop. It makes all the difference. Use cropping to position your subject in the most pleasing location in the frame. This can make a big difference to the overall result.

2. Remove any colour cast. And make any other colour adjustments. For example, with my camera I find I often need to reduce the amount of red.

3. Always use the unsharp mask to bring out the detail of the subjects face. The unsharp mask can be tricky at first but once you figure it out you can dramatically improve photos. The main trick is; don’t overdo it. (I’m still guilty of overdoing it at times!)

Here’s an example of my work, a photo of my brother David:




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