View Full Version : Looking for tips on taking better portraits

12-14-2005, 02:59 PM
Hello All,

I am looking for some tips and advices on how to take better pictures of people (family and friends). I hate to use the word portrait to describe it because that term tends to conjure up image where people go to a studio to have their pictures taken. My subjects are not in a studio, but in everyday settings such as living rooms, outdoor on hiking trails, etc. Sure they stop and pose. Most are candid shots. Using composition rule of third, what are some suggestions to frame the people in the pictures?

Any recommendation on books? Would wedding photography books be a good read for this?

To see examples, you can check out 24Peter pictures. Granted my subjects aren't models, but I love his compsoition.


12-20-2005, 06:25 AM
hi dallas
have you read the sticky at the top of this thread, some excellent tips
cheers kev

12-20-2005, 06:04 PM
If you're referring to this thread, http://www.dcresource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7146. I browsed through some. But can't find the info I am looking for.

12-30-2005, 01:31 PM
CEILING: The biggest thing is to frame the person generally from head to toe if unless you are taking head shots. I see so many photos taken with someones head in the middle of the photo, every thing above that is ceiling, yuck!

LIGHT: Try to never take a shot with the sun shinning in on the floor within your potential shot. This will mess up your exposure. Unless using a tripod, I tend to always use a flash, even during the day as this will help light up the dark side of faces, under eyes etc.

POSITION: Try to take shots of kids on your knees or laying on the ground, if you are standing generally you get the tops of their heads. Expieriment with other positions.

TAKE A HOLE BUNCH OF SHOTS: The ratio on good shots to ucky (term my kids use) ones is about 1 to 5 so be sure to just snap away regardless of how much your daughters are embarassed.

CANDID: These make the best shots and are more family fun to look at then the whole family sitting on and around a couch. This is not my personal opinion either. Test it, show a bunch of fun candid shots and a few of those, "ok everybody, lets all line up" shots and see what your audience comments more on or looks at and smiles more with.


This tip could go on forever, but I will limit it to the technics I use to incorporate family or friends in great outdoor scenery shots. Once again, candid are really good.

CEILING/FRAMING Like above, dont chop peoples bodies in half to get a scenery shot. Sometimes this is ok if it is a candid shot or they are looking or walking away from the camera, but near NEVER when they are standing there smiling at the camera. That just looks like you messed up.

LIGHTING: Try to never shoot with the sun in front of you or less than about 90-100 degrees especially if you want to have BLUE sky as the sky blows out quick to white otherwise. If you have a mix of shade (tree, cliffs) always have subject stand in sun or they will be lost in the shot. Don't forget to use your flash if necessary. Set your ISO to 400ish if it is cloudy.

You may already have known some of this stuff but it is good for maybe the people who are pretty new to photography. Let me know if this helps or if you have more specific questions. Most of these tips I discoverd on my own after taking 100's of shots and seeing what looked good and what didn't and what I did different each time. Fool around with AV, TV and of course M is the most fun. Take multiple shots of the same thing using a bunch of different settings.