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Photography Tips for Taking Full Length Portraits

written by: AlyssaAst•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 11/10/2010

Many people make mistakes when taking full length portraits. Many of these mistakes can be avoided by following simple tips for photography. These tips will help you take the best full length portraits.

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    Lens Tips

    The best tip for taking a full length portrait is to use a long lens. This allows you to stand back from your subject and still be able to fill the frame. This means, no more cut off feet in the portrait. Standing too close to the subject can also cause the image to look distorted. Never use a wide angle lens when taking a full length photo. As a general rule of thumb, the longer the lens is the more natural the subject will look.

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    Focus Tips

    Many tips for photography involve properly focusing on an image. This also goes for taking full length photos. The best area to place the focus is the subject’s eyes. This will work only if your lens is long enough. Try to focus on the subject so that the background is out of focus. This draws the attention to the subject and nowhere else.

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    Photo Composition

    The composition of the photo is very important for the quality of the image. Make sure you do not cut off any body parts when taking the portrait. Nothing ruins a portrait more than a subject missing their feet or the top of their head.

    Other tips for photography involving children include getting down to the child’s level. It is important to remain low because if you are towering over the child, they will look distorted. Kneeling and lying down are often good positions to use when photographing children.

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    Lighting

    When taking full length portraits, do not use a straight on flash. This dulls the portrait. Try to bounce the flash off of a surface. This produces a calmer portrait with pleasant lighting. Natural light is best to use; however, it may not be suitable in a studio setting.

    If you take the portrait outside, avoid the afternoon light. It is best to take outdoor portraits in the early morning of during the evening hours. If you are taking an outdoor portrait, avoid a strong back lighting behind the subject. This will cause their features to become shadows. This will also cause their face to become distorted and their eyes to be hidden.

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    References:

    “Full Length Portraits" Practical Photography by John Freeman