Family Portraits

5 Mistakes You Should Avoid To Improve Your Portraits

We’ve talked at length about the portrait in zoom, right? In my case, it is my favorite photographic discipline – and I know that of many other readers of the blog – that’s why I find it so comfortable and interesting to write about it.

After many articles in which we have told you what you must do to obtain a natural pose, to improve lighting and even to master this field of popular photography. Today I am going to talk to you about what you should NOT do. I think it can be a fantastic addition to improve your portraits. Are you ready?

Mistake # 1: Focus On a Different Area of the Eyes

Yes. I already know that this is a bit of cheating, because I am presenting one of the maxims of the portrait but in negative to be able to say that not following it is an error. However, I want to do it this way to remind you how important it is to focus in the eyes of your model.

In this photograph, the focal plane is clearly placed in the eyes, showing them sharp and bright. It also helps direct the gaze to that area that the rest of the model’s face is covered and that there are no distractions in the background. But, undoubtedly, it is the level of clarity over the eyes that confirm that this region is the center of attention of the image. Can you imagine the disaster that would mean that the focus had gone to the hands or some area of ​​clothing?

When we look at a photograph of a person, we will quickly look for his eyes, so if they do not appear clear, our brain tends to think that something strange happens in that photograph and start to look at the photograph in a somewhat chaotic way. Of other elements sharp.

For that reason, unless you want to highlight another feature of the subject portrayed that you think you should take all the prominence of your image, use a suitable area of ​​focus, or focus and recompose to get the eyes of your model come out perfectly clear. For this it is essential that you master the focus modes of your camera perfectly.

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Mistake # 2: Have Your Model NOT Look At the Camera or Arrange His Look in A Direction Different Than the One Marked By His Nose

Associated also in the eyes of the subject, there is a rule that you know, it is the rule of the gaze, and speaks of leaving space to the subject, within the frame of your photograph, in the direction where your gaze is directed.

However, the error that I want to talk to you now goes beyond not respecting this well-known rule. If the subject looks at the camera, there is no problem. But think of an image in which the subject is looking in a different direction than the one that joins him with the camera. Well, it is a mistake that in that case, the direction marked by his nose and that marked by his look do not coincide.

In this photograph, the model is placed in profile to the camera, but it directs the gaze towards it, so that the appearance of the eyes is natural, since, although an important percentage of the eyeball is appreciated, it is also shown in a completes the iris and pupil of the eye that is closest to the camera. Imagine this same image, but with the model directing her gaze to her right. The result would be very unnatural, do not you think?

Why is it an error? Very easy. Firstly, because it is a tremendously unnatural position of our eyes and, secondly, because, in this position, the white color of the eyeball will predominantly be shown in the eyes of the subject and very little its iris and pupil, which will offer a strange and even diabolical aspect, which you will rarely want to show in your photos. Do not?


Mistake # 3: Do not talk to Your Model

It does not matter if it is a professional model, or a friend or family member who has no experience in front of a camera. Your model needs you to communicate with him. As you take pictures, it is important that you make a positive reinforcement about what you are doing well and help him to correct what you do not like. It is not enough to think about it. You must express it and let it know.

If there is no communication, the model will lose the guide that the photographer must give him and his face will be more and tenser due to the lack of feedback regarding how he is doing it. If, in addition, the communication is reinforced through a photograph in which you can indicate what you have done well and what you have not done correctly, we will guarantee a better understanding of the message you want to convey to them.

Mistake # 4: Not Caring For the Background of the Image

In portrait photography the protagonist is very clear and it is even easy to make him understand so to whoever looks at the photograph. Through a suitable composition, or placing the focus in the eyes of the person portrayed, for example.

In this image, a background has been chosen that, far from subtracting protagonism from the girl by the direction of the lines marked by the bricks and the level of blurring of these, clearly helps the person who looks at the image to direct their attention to the model.

However, we must not forget that the background of our images plays a fundamental role, which should complement and, in the case of portrait photography, not subtract a bit from protagonism to the subject portrayed.

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If you want to manage the background of your portrait photographs at your leisure, check these 5 keys to get it.

Mistake # 5: Making Portraits Only From Your Habitual Perspective

People have a tendency to photograph the world as seen from our eyes, at the height they are. However, when we climb on something, we throw ourselves to the ground, or, in short, when we vary the position of our eyes and observe the world; we appreciate a completely different reality.

Do you notice anything weird in this picture? Exactly, both the parents and the photographer have put themselves at the level of the baby. In this way, we see the world as she sees it and shows it in a more dominant and secure way. As saying: “at this point, I control” 🙂

Why do I tell you this? Because it is a very common mistake to take portraits only from our usual perspective. However, we are missing the results that this condition offers us. If you do, you will discover the 5 key angles of the photograph and, most importantly, you can apply it to your portraits to achieve different and more attractive results.

What Error Do You Recommend Avoid?

And with this I end the 5 errors that I consider fundamental to avoid to improve your portrait photography. Do you agree with me? Or is there an error that you think we should incorporate into this list? Surely yes.

You know, we’re all ears. We are looking forward to seeing new mistakes that we can banish and thus continue perfecting our portrait technique.