Have you ever won­dered, “Why are some peo­ple con­sid­ered pho­to­genic and oth­ers not?” And of course, every pho­tog­ra­ph­er asks a dif­fer­ent ques­tion — how to use the pho­to­genic char­ac­ter when shoot­ing and how to com­pen­sate for its absence?

To imme­di­ate­ly answer these dif­fi­cult ques­tions, you do not need to con­vene a coun­cil and spend hours on end­less dis­cus­sions. Pho­to­genic­i­ty is not so much a per­son­’s appear­ance, but his self-per­cep­tion and behav­ior in front of the cam­era lens. Most often, peo­ple who do not like them­selves or are accus­tomed to con­sid­er them­selves non-pho­to­genic are pinched on the set, because they are afraid of a poor-qual­i­ty result in advance. All this, of course, is reflect­ed in the pho­to­graph. The task of the pho­tog­ra­ph­er in this case is to break down the wall between him­self and the mod­el, help the per­son on the oth­er side of the lens feel com­fort­able, and then find posi­tions, angles and light­ing that will bring out his best and unique fea­tures. And it’s great when the result brings sat­is­fac­tion to both the pho­tog­ra­ph­er and the mod­el.

  • Find a com­mon lan­guage with the mod­el and com­mu­ni­cate dur­ing the shoot­ing
  • As we have just not­ed, the secret of a suc­cess­ful pho­to­graph is more than tech­ni­cal aspects, light and cam­era. It all starts with the inter­ac­tion between the mod­el and the pho­tog­ra­ph­er to cre­ate a com­fort­able atmos­phere for both. Typ­i­cal­ly, this involves some kind of explo­ration of your char­ac­ter, their inter­ests and per­son­al­i­ty. You should know every­thing from hob­bies, which can be a great con­ver­sa­tion starter, to spe­cif­ic fac­tors, such as favorite music, which can make a per­son relax, sing along or dance.

    If you’re shoot­ing a per­son you don’t know yet, look at the rest of the por­traits you can find and be care­ful — every­one has favorite things, col­ors in clothes, pos­es, facial expres­sions, and even a good loca­tion when shoot­ing. And these are the things that you, as a pho­tog­ra­ph­er, absolute­ly need to con­sid­er.

    If you know a char­ac­ter or he trusts you, every­thing is also not so sim­ple — after all, even the most open peo­ple are some­times pinched and shy of the cam­era. There­fore, do not neglect the oppor­tu­ni­ty to cre­ate a pleas­ant envi­ron­ment in which the mod­el will be eas­i­er.

  • Always pay atten­tion to light­ing and sur­round­ings
  • When the day of shoot­ing comes, you need to be pre­pared and have a clear plan — both for the envi­ron­ment and set­ting in which the por­trait will be shot, and for the set­tings with which you are going to shoot.

    If you’re shoot­ing indoors or in a stu­dio, check out the avail­able options for back­grounds and indoor light­ing before­hand. Will it be pos­si­ble to use nat­ur­al light in the frame, or will you have to rely entire­ly on lamps and soft­box­es? Will clean walls be avail­able, or draperies that can be used as a back­drop, or will the inte­ri­or become the envi­ron­ment.

    If shoot­ing out­doors using nat­ur­al light, con­sid­er the time of day, the direc­tion of the sun, and how and where you plan to posi­tion the mod­el. Always remem­ber that ear­ly morn­ing and mid-after­noon (2–3 hours) is the best time for por­traits with nat­ur­al light. But film­ing at noon, with the most harsh light and shad­ows, on the con­trary, is bet­ter to avoid. It’s a good rule of thumb to check weath­er fore­casts — cloudi­ness, for exam­ple, can help cre­ate a por­trait with soft shad­ows, like a nat­ur­al reflec­tor.

    Ide­al­ly, the mod­el should be fac­ing the sun, or at such an angle that the light­ing accen­tu­ates the fea­tures, but, on the con­trary, smooths out unpleas­ant shad­ows. When com­pos­ing a por­trait, it is essen­tial to look behind the mod­el and note details such as dis­tract­ing back­grounds, objects that break the com­po­si­tion, and so on. While on the cam­era dis­play or in the viewfind­er, such things are easy to miss, so you just need to learn and get used to.

  • Observe cam­era and lens dynam­ics
  • So that these words do not sound lengthy, we will explain them in more detail. When we take a pic­ture, we trans­fer a three-dimen­sion­al, 3d image into a flat 2d space. There­fore, depend­ing on the focal length and the posi­tion of the cam­era and lens, you can either empha­size or hide imper­fec­tions. And of course, this will be reflect­ed in the final pic­ture. The num­ber of indi­vid­ual char­ac­ter­is­tics of each of the mil­lions of faces is lim­it­less: it can be bright eye­brows, spe­cif­ic noses, dou­ble chins and much more. From this it may seem that it is almost impos­si­ble to take a per­fect or even suc­cess­ful shot, but this is not at all the case. It is with the help of the loca­tion of the cam­era rel­a­tive to the mod­el that you can choose the most suc­cess­ful angle.

    Depend­ing on whether you want to shoot a por­trait from a clos­er dis­tance, you want to cre­ate a beau­ty shot, or you want to cap­ture a char­ac­ter in a nat­ur­al envi­ron­ment doing what they love, you will have to choose the approach to shoot­ing. Espe­cial­ly when shoot­ing por­traits, it must be tak­en into account that the object or part of the face that is clos­est to the lens will appear larg­er than the rest. This effect is even more pro­nounced when using a wide-angle lens. There­fore, when shoot­ing por­traits, wide angles are not rec­om­mend­ed.

    Again, this char­ac­ter­is­tic needs atten­tion when shoot­ing char­ac­ters with spe­cif­ic large noses. The longer the focus of the lens, the flat­ter and more com­pressed the ele­ments will appear. The face, in this case, will be rounder, and the nose — short­er and more har­mo­nious. That is, a tele­pho­to lens with a focal length of 200mm, locat­ed a lit­tle fur­ther, but aimed direct­ly at the face of the mod­el, will cre­ate a more pleas­ant effect than a reg­u­lar 85mm por­trait lens.

  • Always look into your eyes
  • The eyes are not with­out rea­son called the mir­ror of the soul, in por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy a lot can be con­veyed through the look of the char­ac­ter, there­fore, when shoot­ing, often atten­tion and empha­sis is placed on the eyes. Sim­i­lar­ly, focus is impor­tant — if the image is clear and bright, but the eyes are out of focus, the essence of the pic­ture is lost.

    With the help of a glance, you can con­vey both the mood and the idea of ​​​​the frame, thanks to its direc­tion, you can build a com­po­si­tion. In short, the pos­si­bil­i­ties are only lim­it­ed by the imag­i­na­tion of the pho­tog­ra­ph­er.

    Sony cam­eras have a very handy fea­ture — ‑Eye AF, which allows you to focus on the eyes of the char­ac­ter. In addi­tion, flex­i­ble focus points can be used to posi­tion the focus on the eye. Thus, regard­less of the depth of field, the eyes are always in focus.

  • Don’t be afraid to move
  • Pho­tos can tell a sto­ry, and even if you like clas­sic por­traits, some­times you can push the bound­aries. Around the char­ac­ter there is always an envi­ron­ment that can also be used. Thus, by zoom­ing in and out, mov­ing fur­ther and mov­ing clos­er, you can change the mood and atmos­phere of the frame.

    If you are pho­tograph­ing chil­dren, for exam­ple, you should not do this from the height of your own height. On the con­trary, by shoot­ing them from their lev­el, you can achieve a greater effect of real­ism, con­vey their per­son­al­i­ty and make the pho­to more per­son­al. The same thing works with adults — look­ing at a per­son at their own height is one of the tricks that will help you anchor your own psy­cho­log­i­cal con­nec­tion with the char­ac­ter in the frame and reflect his per­son­al­i­ty.

    If you want to achieve a spe­cial effect, you can shoot from below, and from above, and from the side — every­thing will depend only on what kind of sto­ry you are try­ing to tell.

  • Don’t lose sight of white bal­ance
  • The tone and appear­ance of your sub­jec­t’s skin plays a very impor­tant role when cre­at­ing a por­trait. Appear­ances are deceiv­ing to the untrained eye, so a cam­er­a’s white bal­ance can eas­i­ly be deceived by the sur­round­ings. Reflec­tions from walls, cloth­ing or green­ery, even day­light, can make all the dif­fer­ence in bal­anc­ing a shot. There­fore, you should not com­plete­ly rely on the auto-bal­ance of the cam­era — a mis­take can cost time and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty.

    You should always have white bal­ance cards, fil­ters, and cal­i­bra­tion tools in your arse­nal. They will help to build the right bal­ance in any sit­u­a­tion.

    If you’re work­ing in low light con­di­tions but still want your char­ac­ter to stand out, the avail­able light can be realigned to match them with a col­lapsi­ble reflec­tor. The reflec­tors are avail­able in white, sil­ver, gold or black, and we have already writ­ten about their specifics in more detail.

    Feel free to use their capa­bil­i­ties when shoot­ing por­traits.

  • Black and white clas­sic
  • In sit­u­a­tions where the avail­able light­ing does not allow for a pleas­ing white bal­ance, a com­plete­ly afford­able option is to con­vert the image to black and white. It also adds a vin­tage effect to the por­trait. In addi­tion, in a black and white frame, the back­ground col­ors will not dis­tract atten­tion from the empha­sized out­line of the char­ac­ter at all. That is, all atten­tion will be focused on it. You can shoot a por­trait in col­or in RAW, and con­vert it to black and white after, this will make it pos­si­ble to fur­ther twist the set­tings and achieve the desired effect. In this case, you can con­nect cre­ativ­i­ty and empha­size every­thing that will give the char­ac­ter char­ac­ter.

  • And once again we will men­tion the RAW for­mat
  • We often say that RAW is the most ben­e­fi­cial for­mat for shoot­ing. No mat­ter what type of footage you’re aim­ing to cap­ture, this for­mat will allow you to achieve the best qual­i­ty and more oppor­tu­ni­ties in post-pro­cess­ing. They weigh more than oth­ers and will require more free space on the mem­o­ry card, but the ben­e­fits in this case great­ly out­weigh.

    In essence, RAW files can be described as a kind of neg­a­tives of film pho­tographs. Once you down­load them direct­ly from your cam­era, you can edit them to add con­trast, pull col­ors, tone, and more with­out affect­ing the orig­i­nal. The JPEG for­mat that all cam­eras shoot is a com­pressed for­mat in which the qual­i­ty is reduced. And with qual­i­ty, impor­tant infor­ma­tion is lost. For tasks such as social net­works, for exam­ple, JPEG pho­tos are more than enough, although it is worth remem­ber­ing that every time we reduce and change such a frame, we lose data. So, if we are talk­ing about seri­ous pho­tog­ra­phy, about albums, print­ing, and so on, we mean that the work will begin with a RAW pho­to.

    Addi­tion­al inspi­ra­tion.

    And in the end it is worth men­tion­ing that it is always use­ful and always worth look­ing for addi­tion­al inspi­ra­tion. You can find it both in the works of famous pho­to artists, cin­e­ma, lit­er­a­ture, and sim­ply in your own mood, sur­round­ing objects and peo­ple.