Heartfelt Portraits

by Jill Enfield

Every February, throughout the United States, millions of dollars are spent on candy, flowers, food, and more – all in the name of Valentine’s Day. Express your feelings by giving a portrait to your loved one. A portrait showing the essence of your loved one’s being will be appreciated all year long and beyond. Such a portrait shows you truly care and profoundly appreciate the person’s unique qualities. These portraits need not focus on traditional romance but on capturing the inner beauty of the model.

Capturing the character of yourself or your model is most effectively achieved through an “environmental portrait.” A few quick and easy tips are described below to get you started and ready for the big day. The ideas are simple, such as blurring the background, but have a huge impact on the photos. Other tips include using props found around the house or outside and making sure to take advantage of beautiful, natural light.
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Blur the background

Open up your lens to IF/5.6 or lower to blur the background. This can be done with point-and-shoot cameras by putting the camera on “portrait” mode.

Use eye contact

Get up close so just the subject’s face and maybe a little shoulder can be seen. A personal effect can be achieved by having the subject look straight into the lens of the camera. This can be quite powerful when nothing is in the background to distract the viewer in any way. 

Use natural light

Natural lighting can also make a big difference. If a straight flash is used, the lighting is often harsh and not very appealing. Window light or using the flash on “fill” can add a very romantic feel to the image. Use early-morning or late-afternoon sun streaming in when possible – just the thought will evoke a warm response. couple

Simplify the background

By keeping the background simple but including a little of the surrounding area, a mood is set. This can easily be done by either setting the subject off to the side of the photo or putting the subject in a doorway or favorite chair.

Use props to make model comfortable

WomanLet’s face it: As we age, we are not always happy with all of our facial features, but we still want loved ones to have recent pictures of us! To hide my “chins,” I wrapped a scarf around my neck; it made all the difference in how I felt in front of the camera. Use props to make the model more comfortable.

Prepared by Take Great Pictures.com. For more tips visit www.takegreatpictures.com

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