Earlier this month, my fellow Canon Blogtographers and I were treated to a second photo session with fashion photographer Steve Carty, this time learning all about portrait photography. Right in time for the holiday get-togethers, where photos will inevitably get snapped, but not always ones you would want to keep. Steve showed us how to get the winning shot that your family and friends will keep and treasure for years to come!
To learn a bit about portrait photography, our assignment for the evening was to shoot a head-on portrait in black and white, shoot a holiday portrait, a holiday scene at a dinner table, and finally a portrait with very low light. Here’s what I learned about getting THE SHOT!
1. Use Creative Filters
One of the best things I learned about my Canon camera is that I don’t need to use Photoshop to spice up my photos with cool effects. With fun creative filters like Toy Camera, Monochrome, Fish Eye, Soft Focus, Grainy Black and White, which can also be layered, you can take any photo from boring to awesome. When using these Creative Filters in-camera, you don’t have to worry about losing your original image, because your camera will save an edited copy automatically. I used the Grainy Black and White filter on the below photo, and love how it turned out!
2. Crop It
As I mentioned before, Rule of Thirds is a good one to follow. You can make any photo stand out by simply cropping it to make sure that the eye is drawn to the subject of the photo and not to the background or other random things in the picture. You can achieve this without having to do any post-production work by using various aspect ratios in-camera. If you want your image to be perfect for Instagram, use 1:1, want a standard image – use 4:3, want your photo to look good on a widescreen display – 16:9 is your go-to aspect ratio.
More after the jump!
3. Try SCN Modes
There are several SCN Modes available on Canon cameras that are great for portrait photography. Night portrait allows you to take a photo when there’s not much light, and you want to avoid using flash. Portrait mode widens the aperture to make the background behind your subject more blurry. You can also shoot your images in Monochrome automatically, which is what I did below.
4. Use Multi-Shot Noise Reduction
One thing I’ve struggled with in the past is noise in my photos. When shooting with high ISO, oftentimes you will notice that your images look grainy. In portrait photography this is especially noticeable. To avoid these unwanted “Smarties”, you can use Multi-Shot Noise Reduction feature on your Canon camera. When activated, this feature lets you capture four images and combines them in camera to create a noise-free photo. (To get there go to: Menu ->Shooting Settings ->High ISO Speed NR -> NR)
5. Blur It
When shooting portraits, your subject’s face (and especially their eyes) should be the main focus of the photo, which is why it’s a good idea to ensure that other distracting elements are blurred out. To do that, you can either use a Portrait SCN Mode, or simply widen your aperture. Moving the person you are photographing away from the loud background will also help to blur it out.
6. Invest in Good Lenses
At our last session, we got to play around with some really cool high-end Canon lenses…and wow can those bad boys make a difference! Lenses are definitely more of an investment purchase, and as Steve Carty assured us – they will last you a lifetime if you take good care of them. The kit lens that comes with your camera is going to be a good start, but if you are truly serious about the quality of your photos, the next logical step is getting a better lens. There are different types of lens for every type of photography, so if you are interested in learning more, please check out www.canonlenses.ca, where you can virtually try different lenses and learn which one will be perfect for you.
7. Have Fun With It
The best piece of advice I can give you after my portrait session is – have fun with it. Holiday photography is all about capturing the joy and the love around you, and my favourite shots tend to be the ones that radiate with positive energy. Get creative and try something different this holiday season, shoot in black and white, blur things out, use filters, or not, but whatever you do – do it with gusto.
Happy Holidays from the Canon Blogtography Team and hope your photos this season are the best yet!