Face to Face: 5 Essential Tips to Improve Your Portrait Photography

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From the original “selfie” way back in 1839 to high school yearbook pictures, portrait photography is a notable experience for all parties involved. For the subject, the lens is a chance to freeze a moment in time and escape from the whirlwind that is their daily routine. On the other side of the camera, the photographer is only too happy to use this unique opportunity to capture a raw and intense human emotion that afterwards is proudly displayed on their online portfolio. Because of its powerful effects, portrait photography is also one of the hardest genres to master. It takes time and skill to perfectly balance the light and find the right framing, while constantly focusing on the model – not to mention the mutual understanding of trust and respect that the two protagonists have to build.

But when all the ingredients are combined, oh my, the result is without a doubt worth all the effort. As the showcased photos here demonstrate, portraits can be some of the deepest, roughest and most subjugating images one can see. They have this rare ability to leave you speechless or, on the contrary, filled with questions – two reactions every photographer strives for. The five Wix photographers behind these stunning shots have excellently mastered portrait photography, so we asked them to share some of their wisdom. Here’s what they had to teach us:

Connect to your model

Fashion photographer Kees Penders has photographed his fair share of models, while working for major fashion publications like Vogue Italia. His best tips for mastering portraiture? “For me, communication and connection to the model is key for every shoot.” In order to capture the ‘best’ of your model, make sure to catch their natural behavior and poses, he suggests. Try and look for the subject’s most genuine and authentic mood. This is what you need to portray in order to catch the attention of your viewers.

As a rule of thumb, Kees recommends to always observe the model and how they move while they are what he calls ‘off guard’ (not aware they are being observed). This will reveal their natural gestures and poses that you can use to create natural-looking images. This is also a good trick to use when a model finds herself stuck in poses that don’t really fit the mood of the shoot. If that happens, take a mini-break and watch how your subject ‘acts’ right after you’ve stopped shooting. This will reveal her natural, confident self.

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