When you begin dabbling in the art of photography, many shots that seem simple actually turn out to be more complex than first thought. Some of these tricky shots include taking full length portraits. There are many things that can go wrong when taking full length portraits, such as missing heads and distorted faces, but luckily there are many photography tips for beginners that help resolve many of these common mistakes. By using these tips, you’ll be able to take great full length portraits.
Lens Tips for Beginners
When taking full length portraits, you want to use a long lens. Never use a wide angle lens because it’ll cause the image to look unnatural. By using a long lens when taking the portrait you’ll be able to stand back from your subject, allowing you to capture the entire image while filling the frame. By doing do, you’ll avoid cutting off the head and feet of your subject. An important lens tip for beginners is that the longer the lens is that you’re using the more natural your subject will appear.
Focusing Tips for Beginners
When taking full length portraits, it’s important to focus on the subject properly to capture the natural details of the subject and to avoid a fuzzy image. If using the correct lens, you want to focus on the subject’s eyes. By focusing on the eyes and maintaining the background in the shot, you’ll draw the focus of the image strictly to the subject and nowhere else.
Lighting Tips for Beginners
When you take full length portraits, you never want to use a straight flash because this will dull the portrait and cause unnatural shadows. What you want to do is bounce the flash off of a surface if natural lighting isn’t available. Although natural lighting is always best to use, if it isn’t possible, use a bounce flash to create a calm portrait with subtitle lighting.
If you’re able to use natural lighting, such as outdoors, don’t take the portrait during the afternoon hours. It’s best to take the portrait during the morning or evening hours when the sunlight isn’t as harsh. When outdoors, don’t use a strong back lighting behind the subject because this will cause unwanted shadows to appear and the subject’s eyes will be hidden.
Photo Composition for Beginners
The composition of the photo is essential for the final image of the subject. It’s absolutely essential no body parts are cut off and no shadows distort the image. To produce the best photo composition possible, use the tips above and make sure you take the shot at the proper level. If you’re taking a portrait of a child, take the image at the child’s level. You don’t want to tower over the child because the portrait will look unusual. Don’t be afraid to kneel down or even lay down to get on the same level as your subject.
“Full Length Portraits” Practical Photography by John Freeman