John Harvey Photo

Learn Portrait Photography
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Just don't say "Cheese!"


Portrait photography isn't easy - just pointing a camera at someone isn't generally going to get you an happy photo.  What can you do to increase the number of quality photos you like?

Take Lots of Photos
If you expect every snap to be perfect, you can pretty much guarantee every shot will be at best mediocre.

Whos ThatGrinningMonster

In the big scheme of things, film is cheap and digital is cheaper.  The above series shows a few of the different rules of portrait composition.  The first photo shows the empty space facing the person - if you have empty space, try to keep it in front of the person.  The second image shows symmetry.  The third (and first) has the eyes resting on one of the rules of thirds - again a nice thing to have.  Don't feel the need to keep space around people, or their heads.    Perhaps for a formal, you want a border, but most portraits aren't (or shouldn't be) formals.

Pick the Correct Lens
I'm a big fan of the 105mm for single person portraits.  The longer focal lengths are better for isolating subjects, and used at large apertures (like f2.8) give a pleasant out of focus background without being too heavy.  For larger shots, shorter lengths are helpful (70mm).

Kyle on SnowCaitlin on Snow

Focus is always a bit of a challenge.  With  children, they often get very close, and the closer they are, the harder it is to focus.  To make matters worse, you really need the eyes to be in focus - when doing close ups the nose and ears are often on the edge of focus.

Toothy GrinJustin Looking In Camera 

Setup the Environment for the Shot
The better shots are more often made than captured - set your self up in the right place with the right gear and the correct setting and then take lots of photos.  An age appropriate playground is good because people tend to loosen up and forget you are there with a camera.
Three Throwing SnowMark Body Boarding



Toothy Grin
Person: Justin
Whos That
Caitlin on Snow
Person: Caitlin
Tags: snow
Three Throwing Snow
Person: Eric, Jesse, Sean
Kyle on Snow
Person: Kyle
Grinning
Justin Looking In Camera
Person: Justin
Mark Body Boarding
Person: Mark
Tags: Hawaii, water sports, wave
Monster
Tags: snow(1), wave(1), Hawaii(1), water sports(1)
People: Justin(2), Caitlin(1), Kyle(1), Eric(1), Jesse(1), Sean(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > Learn Photography > Learn Portrait Photography

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Anna
Thursday, May 10th, 2007 at 08:17:55

Hello. My name is Lauren & I am just starting to get invlovled with photography, preferably photos of people. Thank you for the usefel tips. I hope to increase my photography skills & wish to make a career out of it. with love, Lauren
Lauren
Thursday, May 24th, 2007 at 10:52:58

Thank you for the very useful tips.I'm working with a publishing company as a photographer.Your website help me a lot! Thanks again!
wak
Monday, July 9th, 2007 at 11:09:14

Thank's for the tip's.
Pete
Tuesday, August 14th, 2007 at 06:42:32

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Dhyun
Tuesday, August 21st, 2007 at 05:39:10

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priyanka
Saturday, December 15th, 2007 at 05:11:04

thank you for the tips they will become very usefull during my photography career these tips really inspired me and i will use them with care, i am currently useing a digital blue camera it is rubbish but this website has taught me to get a good camera and follow my childhood career in photography. thankyou scott marley bobleton
scott
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jojo
Monday, January 21st, 2008 at 05:00:33

Amazing site ! It is very helpful for novices like me who are just getting into serious photography. Please keep it out !! and Thanks a lot Imran
Imran
Friday, January 25th, 2008 at 09:41:00

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Robinson
Saturday, February 9th, 2008 at 18:53:29

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sanjay
Friday, March 14th, 2008 at 11:08:43

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sammy
Tuesday, March 18th, 2008 at 02:07:25

I have enjoyed your helpful tips. I'm just a beginner when it comes to photography but recently wanted to learn more about the subject. Thanks, Eddie
Edward
Tuesday, April 8th, 2008 at 10:57:58

thank you for nice teachings on photography. the best site I have ever seen in this regard. Best wishes

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008 at 12:04:56

you have just saved me from failing photography =D
emily
Saturday, June 28th, 2008 at 01:01:38

great photoes and tips, any more u would care to share?. Im moving to Australia and was wanting a change of career, I have always enjoyed taking pictures especaially of my daughter and friends im definately going to look into this further. thanks x
Emma
Monday, September 22nd, 2008 at 13:48:38

I owned a Nikon D60. But I dont Know how to take Good sanps. When I read this Articles, I learned a lot of things.... thanks a lot....
Arjun
Saturday, November 15th, 2008 at 10:44:45

Great tips man. It will really help me get far greater photos this Chiristmas. Keep on writing more tips. Something about taking pictures of crowds. Thanks.
Jacobfuentes.com
Wednesday, December 17th, 2008 at 05:59:39

thanks.. keep up the good job sharing more tips!
Lim
Sunday, March 29th, 2009 at 09:19:40

Thanks on your website. Now, it would be lot easier for me to take pictures on my daughter with the tips you gave. God bless!
Jameley Jumao-as
Thursday, April 9th, 2009 at 01:59:05

Hi, i am a newbie at photography as well. Thank you for the useful tips. There is still so much to learn about..
Wilson
Monday, May 4th, 2009 at 07:36:32

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Emilina
Monday, November 16th, 2009 at 09:20:44

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elnazeer
Monday, November 23rd, 2009 at 01:27:42

Your website is great for beginner like me! Thanks a lot!
Roohy
Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 at 06:08:37

Some very use basic portrait photography rules. Thanks for posting. Reviewing the basics is always helpful.
Michael
Sunday, March 7th, 2010 at 22:50:29

Your website is great, informative and great tips.Thank You
GLosAngeles Photography
Thursday, March 25th, 2010 at 12:43:04

your website is really very informative for beginners , appreciate the good work .
mandy
Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 at 02:34:49

Hi, thank you very much for sharing the essential tips of photography, with different forms. The way you have explained the things are easy to understand for people like me, who has never tried his hands in photography. ADIOS AMIGOS
Partho Sarathi Kar
Monday, September 20th, 2010 at 04:14:19

good for basic learning of photography
satish
Friday, October 15th, 2010 at 09:02:50

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