Adam Barker: Unconventional Portrait Tips
For those of you who know my work, you may be surprised to see a blog post from me on portraits. They’re certainly not my forte, and I don’t profess to be an expert to any degree. But perhaps that’s just what some of us might need to shake things up from the more conventional/traditional portraits many of you might be accustomed to.
Read below for some insight from a “non-professional” portrait photographer on how to create unconventional portraits with meaning.
1. Establish a Repoir with Your Subject
This nearly goes without saying, but it happens too often that we get behind the lens and get in agro “photog” mode and just start shooting away. Ideally, you want a natural, relaxed subject. This is much more likely to occur if they feel comfortable not just in front of the lens, but in front of YOU! This is always an essential first step in making magic with the camera. It’s a team effort!
2. Use Natural Light
Going for that natural look? Good on ya! Forget the cluster of equipment, and commit to working with what your mama (nature) gives you! Try to shoot on days where the light is diffused or evenly dispersed. Ligh
t overcast skies are perfect for this. Also consider searching out locations that offer good bounce light that envelops the subject with warm, even lighting.
3. Forget the Rules
Toss all the rules out the door, and just go with what feels right for once! Forget what you’ve been taught, step outside your comfort zone and experiment—you might be amazed at the results!
4. Switch Lenses
It’s likely you have a go-to lens for portrait shooting. Try switching it up. This will force you to pay a bit more attention to what you are including/excluding in your frame. Shoot wide for context, shoot tight for emotion. I really enjoy shooting portraits with my Canon 24mm tilt shift lens. It allows me to shoot wide for context, but still lets me pull the viewer right in on the subject with the creative tilt shift application.
5. Do It All Over Again
This could be the most important tip of all. Get out there and shoot time and time again. Practice does make perfect! Most importantly, it helps us recognize where our challenges/weaknesses lie. It also helps to build confidence behind the lens, honing in on our own unique style and vision.
Good luck out there—remember that rules are made to be broken. Get a willing subject, some decent light and a good bit of creative drive and you’re bound to product something new and inspiring!