5 Ways to Get Professional-Quality Portraits at Home

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We’ve come a long way since James Maxwell took the first color photograph in 1861. You’ve read the digital camera reviews, decided which digital camera is best for you and opened up your brand-new DSLR. What now? Here are five tips on how to make the most of at-home photography:

1: Use Natural Light
Artificial light can mess with color, as well as creating harsh shadows. And the built-in flash on most digital cameras, even DSLRs, won’t provide the soft look usually preferred for portraits. Instead, use natural light. Try to shoot in the early morning or early evening, when the light is softest. Cloudy days are also perfect for photoshoots, since the cloud cover acts as a natural diffuser.

2: DIY Diffusers and Reflectors
Shadows can be used artfully, but for most portraits you’ll want even, moderate light. This can be achieved using everyday items as diffusers and reflectors. If you’re taking a close shot (shoulders and up), have your subject or an assistant hold a large sheet of white paper horizontal to the ground at the subject’s waist height. This will reflect soft light upward onto his or her face. If you need more light in an area, try using a reflective sun screen made for a car’s windshield. These often cost only a few dollars—and work just as well as professional photography equipment. If you must be inside, bounce light off a white wall.

3: Lose the Poses
Part of the reason so many people are opting to take portraits themselves (or are getting their friends to) is that we’ve grown out of the posted studio look. Shooting outside offers even more options, so make the most of your environment and embrace spontaneity. You might be surprised at how well a fun or silly shot turns out.

4: Take Test Shots
A digital camera shoot offers a lot of advantages over film. But don’t assume that just because you’re clicking away, you’ll have lots of options to choose from later. If your settings are off, what you’re seeing through the viewfinder may not actually be captured. So check the digital screen or hook your camera up to your laptop to monitor the quality of the photos as you shoot. If you have multiple cameras, try each one and look at the images to see which digital camera is best for this situation.

5: Explore Your Camera
Starting on auto isn’t a bad idea. But why buy a DSLR, rather than a point and shoot digital camera, if you’re not going to make the most of it? Figuring out which digital camera is best is useless if you don’t end up using its capabilities. Find a friend who’s willing to be your test subject and head out for a photoshoot. Try adjusting the ISO and f-stop. Many digital cameras write exposure information into the metadata of the photo, so check to see what records are being automatically kept for you. You can find a lot of information on digital cameras online, but one of the best methods to start taking better photos is simply trial and error. Visit here for more information.

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