Portraits – Perspective

In the field of Photography, the word perspective comes up every now and again, but what is it and how can it better my photos? Good questions! I will answer one at a time.

What is “Perspective”? For an example I would like to illustrate an a subject with an immovable object like a tree. For illustrative purposes say this tree is a sapling about your height with strong and well-formed branches. Now a practical explanation of “Perspective” is looking at the tree from the side, below, top or anywhere in-between. Please do not misunderstand, “Perspective” is not only speaking to the “X” or vertical axis (from top to bottom) but also the “Y” or horizontal axis (side to side).

Now a tree does not so well show good reason for taking a different perspective side to side, but what if this tree were replaced in your viewing frame with a human subject? A human is not symmetrical like a tree and because of this fact, moving to one side or another can add or subtract from the viewers interest.

This leads into the second question, “How can ‘Perspective’ better my photos?” Take as an example a simple, straight on portrait as compared to a portrait taken slightly from the side with their head turned toward you. Not that there is a problem with the straight on portrait, however the perspective change can be a useful addition to the photographer’s tool-box.

This is one of the reasons that photographers will have subjects sit at a funny angle to them and then have the subject turn their shoulders one direction and have the subject look toward them. Now perhaps the strange “contortions” or poses will make some more sense at your next portrait session. *Grin* Enjoy!

Portraits – Property

Little things that might otherwise never be considered in portraits are good to keep accessible. These little things should target a purpose for the photo.

  • Is this a yearly portrait session?
  • Is this special birthday session?
  • Is this a business portrait session?

These three examples are a start on the purposes for portraits but what kind of session do you most often shoot? Which session properties will be the most valuable to your business or in-formal shots?

Property or “props” are added elements which suggest motion, share information and set the mood within the photo. Listed below are some “props” which may help you get your “prop” inventory started.

  • Numbers – Numbers apply to birthday and yearly portrait sessions by signifying the age of the subject or the year the portrait was taken. This is the basic use of numbers in a shot, but what other ways can you bring the number into a portrait?
  • Letters – Most commonly a letter is used to state the first letter of the subject’s last name.
  • Umbrellas – Making a statement to Weather or femininity, umbrellas are incredibly versatile! Umbrellas range in design from large to small, dainty to rugged and sporty to fashion.
  • Bean-bag chairs – Styrofoam pellet stuffed chairs give the ultimately conformable property for the wiggling young child or relaxed appearance for older children and young adults.
  • Large stacking blocks – Boxes made of wood or other solid materials can create fun variations on a set. Making impromptu stairs for your subjects to ascend or a small pattern to partially separate activity in your photo frame.
  • Picture frames – Picture frames can be a visual reminder to the viewer of the portrait’s focus in an artistic way or even offer a pictorial time-line with a photo inside of a previous event. (For instance; during the bridal portrait session the bride could hold her favorite picture of her engagement portrait session.)

These are all suggestions which I hope inspire you to use things I have never thought about. I look forward to hearing your success stories and the “props” you use!