For information on our writers and how to contact us, please scroll down to the very bottom of the page.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ten Tips to Help Make Your Portraits Extraordinary

Tip #1- Switch up the angle or perspective of your images to create unique compositions and to add interest to your subject. Vantage points can make or break many photographs and allow for photographer's to move away from common approaches.

Tip #2- Lighting gives us as photographers endless possibilities to create stunning shots, but this cannot be accomplished without experimentation. Look for conditions that add interest to the image, but isn't harsh on skin.

Flash- Use warming gels on your flash and other artificial lighting sources to accentuate your subjects skin tones. Moreover, the use of flash fills can help create contrast between your foreground and background and eliminate shadows.

Natural Lighting- The best lighting conditions in any given day are usually found right before sunrises and just after sunsets, so place your subject in a location where you can take advantage of this kind of lighting. Natural lighting is very important in adding color to both the foreground and backdrop in your images. So when you do come across spectacular lighting,  follow it, and make it work. 

Tip #3- Focus on the eyes of your subject because when it comes to expressing emotion, they are the most important feature of a face.

Tip #4- Don't just stick with posed shots. Posed images often seem bland and plastic because they lack a real world, spur-of-the-moment liveliness. Candid shots tend to encompass people's true emotions and thoughts in ways that posed images can not. Candid images truly portray the personality within someone and teaches you about the person behind the face.

Tip #5- As in all aspects of photography, composition is very important to help anchor the vision of your viewer. Adding symmetry, placing your subject off-center, depicting patterns and reflections, and changing up focus are some ways that composition will bring your portraits to the next level.

Tip #6- When taking portraits it is important to use the right background, by choosing between an intricate or a clean background. What you focus on and don't focus tells a story. You must ask yourself what you are aiming for. Telephoto lenses can help creating a blurring effect on the portions of your shot that aren't the main focus, while wide angle lenses are capable of staying focused on different depths and portions of your images. In studio photography, I suggest using a mid lens (about 80-150mm) for two reasons. One, wide angles may cause distortion on the features of your subject's face. Secondly, when using wides you need to really get close to your subject in order to fill your frame, and that might make them uncomfortable. But, when it comes to travel photography and outside portraits, wide angles may be a better choice as they give your images a better sense of place.

Tip #7- Bring movement into your images and add a sense of life. To do so use a longer than normal exposure and have your subject keep still as others move around him. This also demonstrates to those viewing your shot that the person is the main focus of the image.

Tip #8- Incorporate objects other than just the subject into your photo. Potentially it can result in interesting reactions and make your photograph stand out.

Tip #9- Waiting is an important part of taking candid shots in both travel and event photography. In travel photography you must have the patience to wait for that special moment that will turn a great picture into a brilliant one, whether its a person throwing dyed cow hide in Morocco or the action in the markets of Guatemala.  In event photography things can be less predictable than the ritual work days in the tanneries, so follow where the action is and take a lot of pictures. Also try to avoid the use of flash, or your images may not be very candid anymore. 

Tip #10- In making your portraits extraordinary, you must move away from the obvious. Way too often people set up boring emotionless portraits with the person staring right at them. Having a subject looking outside of your frame may build interest and curiosity. But always remember your purpose to truly encompass one's character.

Next, we will give you ten tips to making your landscapes special, so follow us for more...

Visit our website to see examples of these tips and techniques:, to learn more about our business:, and to find out about how you can hire a NYC Freelance Photographer.

Our Portfolio

Biography and Contact Information

Chase Guttman is a talented and passionate, award-winning photographer having shot everything from landscapes to wildlife to portraits and events all around the world. Chase Guttman is also an affordable NYC assignment photographer, ready to fulfill your photographic wishes with his distinct style and attention to detail. He also runs this popular photography tips and guide blog, with weekly insights into photography that helps everyone from amateurs to pros better their photographic skill. Visit us at our website:

For all questions, comments, suggestions or concerns of both technical and artistical nature, please feel free to e-mail us at: