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Frame the scene

Using elements in the scene to create a frame around your subject is a great way to draw the viewer in. You don’t have to use a window frame to do this. Just look for elements in the foreground that could be used to force the viewer’s eye toward your subject (Figure 6.20).

Figure 6.20

Figure 6.20 The sunbeam from the window on the opposite wall created a frame around my subject.

ISO 100 • 1/500 sec. • f/3.2 • 70mm lens

Keep an eye on your background

Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in taking a great shot that you forget about the smaller details. Try to keep an eye on what is going on behind your subject so she doesn’t end up with things popping out of her head (Figures 6.21 and 6.22).

Figure 6.21

Figure 6.21 (left) A fence post in the background is going right into the subject’s head.

ISO 100 • 1/500 sec. • f/2.8 • 195mm lens

Figure 6.22

Figure 6.22 (right) By moving the camera a little to the left, I was able to remove the distracting post from the photo.

ISO 100 • 1/500 sec. • f/2.8 • 195mm lens

Give them a healthy glow

Nearly everyone looks better with a warm, healthy glow. Some of the best light of the day happens just a little before sundown, so shoot at that time if you can (Figure 6.23).

Figure 6.23

Figure 6.23 You just can’t beat the glow of the late afternoon sun for adding warmth to your portraits.

ISO 400 • 1/800 sec. • f/2.8 • 200mm lens

More than just a pretty face

Most people think of a portrait as a photo of someone’s face. Don’t ignore other aspects of your subjects that reflect their personality—hands, especially, can go a long way toward describing someone (Figure 6.24) and capturing the moment.

Figure 6.24

Figure 6.24 There’s more to a person than just his or her face. Hands can tell a lot about what is happening in the scene.

ISO 200 • 1/320 sec. • f/2.8 • 200mm lens

Get down on their level

If you want better pictures of children, don’t shoot from an adult’s eye level. Getting the camera down to the child’s level will make your images look more personal (Figure 6.25).

Figure 6.25

Figure 6.25 Sometimes taking photographs of children means kneeling to get the camera down on their level, but the result is a much better image.

ISO 200 • 1/320 sec. • f/5.6 • 200mm lens

Eliminate space between your subjects

One of the problems you can encounter when taking portraits of more than one person is that of personal space. What feels like a close distance to the subjects can look impersonal to the viewer. Have your subjects move close together, eliminating any open space between them (Figure 6.26).

Figure 6.26

Figure 6.26 Getting kids to squish together will usually result in great smiles and laughter.

ISO 100 • 1/100 sec. • f/2.8 • 200mm lens

Don’t be afraid to get close

When you are taking someone’s picture, don’t be afraid of getting close and filling the frame (Figure 6.27). This doesn’t mean you have to shoot from a foot away; try zooming in and capture the details.

Figure 6.27

Figure 6.27 Filling the frame with the subject can lead to a much more intimate portrait.

ISO 400 • 1/60 sec. • f/4 • 50mm lens

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