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Portraits: Making the Shot is bursting at the seams with practical and down to earth portrait photography advice, tips and imagery. It has been created to do one thing, transform your dull and lifeless pictures of people into beautiful works of art.
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  Digital Photography School's Quick Guide to Mastering Portraits.

Posing for Portraits

Of course, many of your pictures will be just candid everyday shots. Those pictures are the ones that you will treasure since they will capture you and your loved ones living life, being yourself and just having fun. However, there are times when you may want to take more of a posed portrait. It could be that your family only gets together once a year and you want to get a nice posed picture of everyone. It could be that you would like to send out a photo Christmas card this year and you want to get the perfect image of you and your family. You may even get a call from a good friend or cousin who asks you to take a few pictures at their wedding since an expensive photographer may be out of the question. Whatever the situation may be, you will definitely want some basic ideas of how to pose for portrait photography.

Take a look at most family snapshot photos. Have you noticed how many of them look less like a family and more like a group of people just bunched together? So much of how a picture appears comes down to the posing. With a few pointers, you can be on your way to shooting images very much like professional portrait photography. Here are some tips that can help you.

  • Make sure no one gets hidden. One of the biggest problems with taking a picture of a group is that some people may be hidden in the back. If you have a large group, the best option is to have a front row sitting down and a back row standing. This way, everyone can be seen.
  • Balance is key when it comes to portrait photography. While it may be first instinct to keep each little group or mini family so to speak, together in a large family portrait, this could lead to unbalance and that group of people that just happen to be standing around look. Remember, you are all family! It is ok to mix everyone up. To achieve balance, put the tallest people in the center and then work toward the edges with shorter people. This works especially well if you are taking pictures of a wedding party, but it can come in handy with family pictures too.
  • Put a focus on the main people. For example, if you are taking a picture of mom, dad and their kids, then you should try focusing on mom and dad. Have them sit in the center and then surround them with their children. You can do this with larger groups as well, and it makes the picture more pleasing since it gives something to draw the eye first.

Group Photo with Several People

Small Family Photo

Now that we have discussed some basics of getting the best group picture, let’s talk about any portrait photography, whether it is a picture of one person or 10 people. There are certain ways you can get people to pose and certain ways you can frame the image to get a more flattering look. Have you ever had someone take your picture in an unflattering way? Chances are, you wanted to rip that picture up and then burn it for good measure! So much about how someone looks also comes down to the posing. Here are some easy tips to incorporate when you are taking pictures of people.

  • Never cut off appendages at the joints. This sounds like a silly rule, but if you start looking at a few pictures, you will see how it makes sense. When you cut out someone’s arms right at the elbow, it looks less like the picture was cropped and more like they are missing their forearms. Always try to crop the image just above or just below joints.
  • Remember this golden rule: slightly sideways makes all the difference! When you take a picture of a person standing straight, facing the camera directly, not only will they look stiff and unnatural, but the pose will also add pounds and no one wants that to happen! If you have people turn just slightly to the side, it will make a world of difference. If you are taking a picture of a group, have the people to the left of the center turn slightly right and the people on the right turn slightly left. This is a golden rule you should always use in any portrait photography.
  • Taking pictures from above is always flattering. Whether you choose to stand on a chair or a stepladder, when you get just a little height, it will make everyone look their very best.
  • Alternatively, taking pictures from below is never flattering. If you are lower than your subjects, there are several things that can go wrong. For one thing, you can make the people look distorted and they could end up looking like they have gigantic feet and tiny heads. For another thing, if people are having to look down at you to make eye contact with the camera, you will find that all of a sudden, people have double chins when they do not normally. There are only very rare occasions when you should be located lower than the subject, and those occasions are when you are trying to be experimental or artistic with your images.
  • Have Fun! No one likes a posed portrait that looks all stiff and boring. There may have been a time when that is what portraits looked like, but things certainly have changed. Just look at the websites of a few professional photographers. Portrait photography now is about fun, unique poses that capture life as well as the images. Do not be afraid to experiment and have fun with your photography.

Child's Portrait

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