Portrait Expression

So, if you really want to make your profile images stand out, then it’s time to add in a couple of tricks to help you along the way. In previous blogs, I’ve looked at basic composition, backgrounds and simple lighting techniques to get you towards that perfect profile shot. Now it’s time to look at Portrait Expression.

So how to get from good to better? Well there are a couple things I’ll cover in this edition to help with that, a bit subtle perhaps, but do make a difference.

The first is the next stage in Lighting and the second is all about expression.

Lighting Enhancements

Basic lighting is all very well, and does a reasonable job, but can leave you with rather 2 dimensional images and lack the “pop” you can get by trying something a little more interesting

Again, using the white background, and keeping with the main light high and two the right, we then point the second light at the background rather than at the subject. In that way, the main light casts some shadow on the face and the second light fills it a little and indirectly, so that the face appears more 3–dimensional.

The picture on the left is standard two light set up and the one on the right benefits from the angled. Reflected light of the second strobe point behind the subject and bouncing back. You can do this with a black background but would need to point the light at the subject from behind as the reflection off the black backdrop would be significantly reduced

Portrait Expression

So, how to look in the shot. To smile or not to smile – that is only part of it. I think we all know that a smile will almost always win out over the grump! But what kind of a smile?

We’ve all moved on from the “say cheese” days (haven’t we?) but how to perfect that perfect genuine warmth rather than the “smile with the mouth and not the eyes” look that does not convey a good impression.

As a photographer, I’ve learnt that there is nothing more important than positive engagement with your subject and building that rapport to put them at their ease and ready to work with you to help get the perfect shot

The inset image is not great – it does the job, but the expression lets it down. The main shot is far more engaging, less formal maybe, but the smile is genuine

My tip for free here is for the photographer to avoid hiding behind the camera – no one wants to have  a conversation with the lens, we’d rather talk to a person, otherwise it’s all too difficult to relax and flash your brilliant smile.

In the next blog, I’ll be looking at a camera position and lenses to use and lenses to avoid

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