Need Counseling?

Top KAPA Tips for Portrait Compositions

Posted on: June 10, 2017 at 6:04 am

Portraiture is probably the most common uses of photography. How you frame your subject plays a huge part in making a good portrait. Here are a few tips…

1. The closer the better. Generally it is better to avoid too much free and empty space around the subject, so the viewers’ eyes remain fixed on the model. In this image of Ashna Zaveri, photographed by Karthik Srinivasan (Sony a99 with sal 70-200mm, 1/125sec, ISO-200, f/7.1), notice how a tight framing has helped produce a direct eye to eye connect with the viewer.

2. The Rule of Thirds. When you do have some free space around your subject, use the Rule of Thirds. It is one of the most basic rules of composition that KAPA students learn right at the beginning of their course.

3. Leave enough head space. This is a rule that can be broken, and if broken, broken dramatically. But usually you’d want to leave just a little space over the models’ head to allow some breathing room.

4. Create a good ‘base’. By this we mean, do not frame so tight that the head alone remains isolated, making the image into a mug shot. Leave at least a good amount of the shoulders within the frame to give it a good base.

5. Leave directional space. While tight crops are good for portraiture, if you have a model looking in a particular direction, leave just a little empty space in that direction. This again, gives the image a little breathing room.

6. Dont crop off body parts abruptly. If you do want to make it a very tight frame, go in really close. But abruptly chopping out parts of the hands or part of the face is a no-no.

7. Its ok to crop a part of the head…sometimes. Sometimes you can crop just a little of the head. Sometimes! This should be intentional when you have a good model with intense eyes, for example. It helps create an even closer connect with the viewer.

8. Give isolation to your subject You could do this by using a longer focal length, creating subject-background distance or using a faster aperture…or all of these!

9. Try tilted angles. This is not to be over used, but once in a while you can tilt the camera a little to give your portraits a fresh feel.

10. Use strong colors. Especially with posed portraits, try and select string bold colors for the model to wear, which contrast the background colors…