With the remarkable advancements in technology today, it is not difficult to find a camera that will take great photographs. However, it’s not only the camera that matters; a little knowledge will go a long way in helping you to take great photos that really work. For this feature, we’re focusing in Portrait Photography. Here are some advice, tips, and tricks on how to take professional portrait photographs.

Get that blurred background

One of the things that you will notice in common portrait photographs is the blurred background. This is one of the things that will make your portrait shot look amazing—the person’s face appears sharp, and the background is blurred which results to having a subject that stands out. Achieving this style is easy; all you need to have is a camera with a manual setting (or anything that will allow you to adjust your aperture).

Most digital cameras nowadays come equipped with this. Find the camera’s Av Mode—this is called Aperture Priority (in some models its simply “A,” so better check your manual for the right symbol for this). Take a few steps back from your subject and zoom in your camera to the desired size. Next, set your camera’s F-number to the smallest number available (for DSLR kit lens users, this will be normally 5.6).

Tip for DSLR users: having a 50mm lens will go a long way, as you will get a much smaller f-number. There are other lenses that will let you achieve this, however the 50mm lens is one of the most affordable ones in the market today. If you think you’ll be using your DSLR for a lot of portraits, having this lens will definitely help you produce stunning photos, and of course achieve the “blurred background” effect as well.

Photographing Children

Taking portraits is a must when you have children. While it’s great to take candid photos of them playing or posing with their toys, nothing beats a simple photo of just their cute faces. One of the best ways to take children’s portraits is to level yourself with them, which means that you don’t hold the camera while standing up, like how you’d normally take pictures. With kids (especially with babies), it’s best if you get down on their level—this will involve lots of lying down and trying out several positions before you find the right angle, but keep shooting and you’ll be surprised at the great results.

You can also definitely use the tip above with the blurred background. Because kids move around a lot, it will be tough to shoot, but the key is to take many shots, so you’ll have a lot to choose from. Having blurred photos will happen a lot, so you need to make sure you have some sharp ones in the bunch.

Exploring different perspectives

Or, don’t be afraid to experiment. Having the safe, tried and tested styles have been done before—being adventurous with taking your portraits is what’s supposed to be next. You don’t need to follow the rules all the time, so try and be playful with your shots, try different framing styles, or throw something at your subject if you have to (they’ll have to agree first, of course). You just may get to have that money shot you’ve been waiting for.

Playing with light

This is one of the things that could make or break a photo. One of the styles that adds a dramatic tone to your photo is using back lighting. This kind of lighting could be used for both indoor and outdoor photography, and creates a halo-like effect to your subject.

The simple way to do this is to position the light behind your subject (if you’re doing it indoors with a bulb or any form of lighting, see to it that the source won’t show in the photo). Putting your subject behind a dark background is what works best, as the contrast will make it stand out—this is excellent for outdoor photography).

Taking travel portraits.

Travel will expose you to lots of beautiful faces that will create wonderful portraits. Make sure that when you take photos of people from different cultures, you ask permission first, as a sign of courtesy and respect.

Focusing on the eyes

One of the best ways to show emotions in portraits is by focusing on the eyes, so another trick you can consider is to really focus on the eyes of your subject. Ask them to look in different directions; not just straight to the camera. Remember that you’re the director as well, so you must be able to capture that moment where the eyes are showcased to introduce strong emotions.

Don’t just put your digital camera to Program mode; don’t just put it on auto and start clicking away—learn the basics and the essential things to know in taking pictures. While it’s true that having the top-of-the-line lenses and advanced features does help, having even just a bit of background will do wonders.

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