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Tips for creating a female portrait

What type of portrait to choose, in what format is better to shoot, how to reveal the best in the model and what to focus on.
Why are some people considered photogenic and others not? And how can a photographer, especially a beginner, get around this concept and make portraits that are pleasing to the eye, delight your model and tell your story?
Any genre of photography requires practice. For portrait shooting, especially shooting female portraits, you need to be able to not only choose the right equipment and camera settings – although this, of course, is very important. The second part of the case is the ability to see and show the character of the model, convey the mood, use details and build a story.
As for photogenicity, it’s not how people look in the photo, but how they feel and lead in front of the camera. And the task of the photographer is to break down the barriers, to help the model feel confident, and then to find angles, poses and lights that will hide the flaws and emphasize the dignity and strengths of the person.
How to achieve this all? Here are 10 tips for creating a female portrait.
1. Decide on the type of portrait
Decide on the type of portrait: growth, lap, bust, only the face very close up. Depending on this, you will build a frame, choose a pose, angle, details, and so on.
For example, bust and close-ups eliminate the search for a pose that will make the body visually slimmer. And in the height and waist it will be necessary to monitor everything at once – from posture and clothing to the position of the hands and the background.
But regardless of the type, the main role will be played by the face in general and the eyes in particular (see clause 3).
2. Find the right position and optimal angle.
Almost all women want to look slimmer in a portrait, and this is easily achieved by a slight change in the angle of the camera. Removing slightly from above, directing the camera down, you visually lengthen the neck and make a face Already. The main thing – do not overdo it. Do not shoot at an angle of 90 degrees: this is inconvenient for the model, and will not look good.
If you photograph at eye level, with the camera parallel to the face, then ask the model to slightly tilt your head to the right or left. This will relax your face, neck, shoulders and get something more interesting than a passport photo.
You can make a very natural portrait if you stand behind a model and ask her to look back over her shoulder, as if she was doing some work and looked back at the photographer. But be careful with this pose – you can get not very beautiful folds on the neck.
Experiment. Various versions of poses for female portraits can be found in our previous publications: here, here and here. But the most important thing is that the pose should be comfortable for the model. No matter how beautiful the situation, the inconvenience will be noticeable in the picture. Do not force the model to take a particular posture if it does not like or is too difficult.
3. Open the diaphragm and focus on the eyes.
An open aperture gives a shallow depth of field that allows you to separate the model from the background and focus specifically on the person. But remember that at the maximum open values ​​it is easy to miss with focus.
The focus on the eyes when shooting people is almost always necessary. You can build the perfect composition, choose the best position, but if the eyes come out unsharp, the picture will lose very much. Eyes – the most important part of the portrait, they are not for nothing called the “mirror of the soul.” This is especially important for close-ups of the face.
Make sure that the eyes are sharp and that the light is reflected in them – this will give the impression that they are shining. If possible, adjust the focus on the eyes manually. If the model is half-turned, and it is impossible to focus on both eyes, then focus on the one that is closer to the camera.
Modern cameras such as the Fujifilm X-T3 and Sony A7 III can focus on the eye. The last camera itself chooses the nearest eye.
To avoid smears from moving the model, try using shutter speeds of 1/200 and shorter.
4. Shoot in RAW
Shooting in RAW format will provide the widest possible opportunities for the subsequent light and color correction of the photo. This is especially important for fine work with skin tones.
JPEG, although it takes less space and is more convenient for immediate publication in social networks, means a significant loss of data.
5. Shoot black and white portraits
A black and white portrait makes the viewer concentrate all his attention on the forms and the play of light and shadow. The effect is enhanced by the lack of color.
Converting to b / w will help if the color distracts from the content, it seems redundant, or the lighting was inappropriate and during the post-processing it is not possible to achieve nice looking colors.
Try to translate the picture in black and white format (how to do this, read here) and see if it has become better. Black and white portrait always focuses on the model, emotions, plot – and this, ultimately, the most important thing.

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