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4 Portrait Photography Tips

written by: staceytg•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 12/16/2008

If you have been taking photos for any amount of time, you know how you want them to look and what you might have to do to get that perfect shot. It’s really not as hard as you might think it to be. Here are four tips to get you started.

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    Below are four basic tips to help get you on your way to creating wonderful portrait photographs. These tips will direct you to additional articles that are more detailed and informative, helping you to better your photography skills.

    If you are looking for portrait photography ideas, try reading Larry Lynch's article: Digital Portrait Photography - 5 Unique Ideas

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    Tip #1 - Lighting

    If you think that lighting is easy to do, you should think again. Lighting is the part of the photo that makes it really pop and can give you a great photo. It can also make the photo look really bad if not done well. The best thing to do to get great lighting is experiment with the shots that you want to do. The simple things seem to look the best in the end when it comes to your lighting.

    For additional information on photography lighting, including tips and techniques, check out the following tutorials:

    Understanding Your Digital Camera's Metering Modes. Besides explaining the different metering modes, this article will also provide you with links to articles that will help you better understand other valuable aspects of lighting, such as shutter speed, aperture and composition.

    Tips on Shooting in Low Light Situations. This article includes helpful information and tips on ISO settings.

    How to Bounce Light for Luminous Digital Photos. Using your digital camera's flash isn't always a good thing. Bouncing the light can enhance the overall results of your photos. However, this can be quite the task if you own a basic point-and-shoot digital camera, and no external flash unit. This article will provide you with tips on how to bounce light for better pictures.

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    Tip #2 - Backdrops

    You have probably seen the expensive backdrops that do look great but cost so much. You can still get a great backdrop with little investment. The best thing that I have found is to use the natural outdoors for your backdrop. Of course this is not always possible because of weather or other reasons. In this case, you can use fabric or even interesting blankets.

    Additional resources:

    How to Build a $20 Backdrop Stand

    Don't Forget to do a Background Check - Photography Composition Techniques

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    Tip #3 - Tripod

    If you find that your shots are out of focus or blurry, you should consider a tripod for your portrait photos. Even if your camera has an image stabilization feature, your photos may still turn out less than perfect without the help of a tripod.

    Further reading:

    Camera Tripods - Every Photographer Should Own One

    5 Tips on How to Eliminate Camera Shake to Take Better Photos

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    Tip #4 - Poses

    When it comes to portrait poses, get creative, have fun and use your imagination! The great thing about digital photography is that you don't have to worry about the expense of film. Troll the internet for portrait photos, find ones that you like and ask yourself why you like them. Take note of how the person is posed and then try it for yourself. You've got nothing to lose.

    For more helpful tips on posing, try reading the following:

    10 Tips on How to Take Great Group Photos

    Tips on How to Take the Best Family Pictures

    Working with Angles - Photography Composition Techniques