DIY Portrait Tips
Not everyone has the funds lying around to hire a professional photographer every time they want a portrait. In fact, that would basically require hiring your own personal photographer because many portraits are taken while out and about, on vacation, exploring a new area, or just in the back yard.
With that in mind, over the summer (yes... the summer) I set out to take a few photos that would illustrate a few tips for improving your portrait photographs without having to carry around an expensive DSLR camera. I enlisted the help of a friend of mine, Arnab, and asked him to bring along his point-n-shoot. I shot several photos of him around the Intrepid Air & Space Museum in New York City using his camera, my iPhone, and my Canon 5D Mark II. In hindsight, the Intrepid wasn't a great backdrop for this tutorial: it's mammoth. One of the tips I planned to share (and will now) and demonstrate dealt with tourist photos. Many times I see people get as close to a backdrop as possible, then the person with the camera gets as close as possible to the subject, then sets the camera for a wide angle shot. To me, this is going about it all wrong. Everything is in focus in the picture, and there's nothing to make the subject stand out. Take a look at the two photos below of Arnab. The photo on the left is taken while I'm standing perhaps 4-5 feet away, with the zoom as wide as it will go. The photo on the right, I backed up perhaps 20-25 feet away, then zoomed in. Arnab is nearly the same size in both photos, but the one on the right makes for a much better portrait. The background is blurred, and thanks to a phenomenon called compression, the scenery behind him seems closer, and also a lot of distractions get cut out as well.For a portrait like the one above, do the following:
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