10 Tips for Portrait Photography

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In this tutorial Tuhin Subhra Dey shares some tips on taking portraits.

Portraits

1. A photographer friend of mine once told me that “there should always be some “wow” elements in your photos, if you think that your photo lacks that characteristics, don’t show the photo to the others”!! Although I personally believe that it is not easy to capture “wow” moments in every shot, but keeping that goal in your mind always helps to get a better framing (for example, I took the picture (picture -1) of the angry Sadhu at Gangasagar fair, he was badmouthing the pilgrims for not giving him enough alms . I was watching his movement and preparing myself for the precise moment to press the shutter).

Picture -3.jpg

2. Always try to capture a picture which itself tells a meaningful story (for example I took the photo (picture -2) of these schoolgirls during a heavy downpour when they were eagerly waiting for another friend of them to come!). Sometimes try to interact with the subject instead of being a mere voyeur, try to know the story behind and recompose, if possible. In picture -5, I captured a street orphan with a very painful face. Try to depict a specific mood of your subject. In picture -6, a Sadhu is glued in smoking.

Picture -4.jpg

3. Learn to compose the patterns. For “unaware or semi aware” type of pictures, I think the shot and composition has to be planned very quickly in most of the time. Train yourself (only way to do this is taking more and more photographs) to quickly measure the direction of the light, the unique interesting POV, shapes, the aperture and shutter speed. If there is enough light, I usually use Aperture priority mode, since it helps me to get the perfect DOF, but if I am not sure or I don’t have enough time to set the settings I switch to Program mode (P).

Picture -5.jpg

4. For “fully aware” type of pictures, you get more time to set your camera and composition, even then don’t make it just a posed lifeless photograph, get something meaningful out of it. For example in picture -4 the little girl is a cow trader’s daughter, everyday she helps her father to chase the cows to the market with her little stick.

Picture -6.JPG

5. Look for a relevant or clear background. If the background is disturbing, use smaller aperture values. In picture -7, I was very lucky to have a clean background , however in picture -10, I found the background where a lady is drying her saree as a very interesting one, because it seemed to me as if the Sadhu was remembering about his past life , his family and probably his wife as well, who knows!

Picture -7.jpg

6. If you need to take a closer shot, approach your subjects confidently. Show your camera to them and ask for permission (of course with a smile please!). I have shot

pictures in India, Nepal and Europe; I have always found it much easier to shoot in India. Usually common people feel flattered when someone takes their pictures, so it is easier to get close-up portraits most of the time. Although sometimes you may need to answer some curious and weird questions. However in Europe, I have always found it difficult, since people are not so free when a stranger is taking their photograph. A telephoto lens may be useful for taking portraits if you are not so confident about asking for close portraits. But I don’t encourage this idea of using telephoto lenses very much as I believe, to take a good portraits, someone should get closer as much as possible. A wide angle perspective can be used as well for capturing the street scenes. don’t be upset if someone says “No”. Respect that and try someone else.

Picture -10.jpg

7. Avoid using flashes, they create unnecessary attentions. Use natural light. I prefer to shoot during the magic hours when the sunlight is very soft. Otherwise usually I use “Cloudy” white balance to get warm snaps. Sometimes you may need to boost up your ISO at the cost of not using flash. Do that, if necessary (for example: I took the shot (Picture-3) of the child beggar with a painted face inside a local train in Calcutta. There was very little available light and train was running and heavily shaking, hence I had to use very high ISO -1600).

8. While shooting in public, try to wear casual clothes and carry minimal gears. It will help you to stay unnoticed. I usually carry a Tamron 18-270mm and a Canon 50mm 1.8 lens with a Canon 450D camera body and sometimes, a Fujifilm S8000fd P & S camera.

Sadhu and his follower.jpg

9. Although may not be essential for everyone, but for me , reading some good books on Photography , regularly viewing and “reading” good photos on flickr and other websites makes a lot of difference .

10. Keep yourself safe. Don’t risk your life.

About Tuhin Subhra Dey: I am an Indian and by profession, a Doctoral fellow of Economics at University of Houston, although a serious amateur now but I cherish a keen dream of becoming a full-fledged Pro photographer someday in future. Connect more with Tuhin Subhra on Flickr and Facebook.

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  • Mark Pashia

    @Karen Stuebing —

    The dumpster diver is very typical and the key is to take those “pose” shots that they seem to want and then get them to go back to what they were doing to get the shots you want. You will probably discard the “pose” shots, but you made them happy by taking them and that helps you get the shot you wanted anyways.

    I often take those shots and show them on the camera display, then ask them to go back to what they were doing and forget I am there. Now both of us are happy.

  • the article is very inspirational and all the folks that commented on the post gave some nice tips too. thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  • Now on portrait photography. Have any of you tried the A-DEP mode (on Canon DSLR) for portraiture? In case u did, what are your experiences? Thanks in advance.

  • Hello friends, finally I have opened a facebook fan page for me. Main credit goes to Jennifer though..:)

    Link : http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/pages/Tuhin-Subhra-Dey-photography/113596648680589

  • That’s a good idea Tuhin, and finally i had some time to read completely this page.
    It’s very interesting, sorry that i’m a bit late but you know where i was đŸ™‚
    Cheers!

  • Nicole

    @Tuhin Subhra Dey I love your work it is absolutely beautiful. I wish you much success. If possible, without revealing any of your “trade” secrets, can you share some of your PP tips ? I’m new to both photography (been shooting about 4 months) and Lightroom . I’m struggling with what to do inside of LR.

  • Since there’s no reply to my question re use of A-DEP mode for portrait photography; I’ve done the test myself. For indoor single or group portraits; it doesn’t work very well. However, further tests remain to be made. In any case, being a nature photographer, I may not go for an in-depth research. Despite all the foregoing, A-DEP might play a role for landscape photography. Let me work it out and will let you know when possible.

  • Beautiful shot especially the one of the cow herder girl, there is so much depth in her eyes.

  • Great tips – fantastic images. Love the tip on the lighting. We’re natural light shooters whenever possible (and that’s most of the time). We’re always looking for great natural light to shoot in… or shade, in order to get out of harsh light. We only use flash artistically – typically during the first dance.

  • Great show case of Indian Portraits !! Very appealing to people in the west.

  • Kai

    Wow. Although the references to the pics are a little confusing your portraits are stunning. If you are that good on every occasion you really are a PRO.

    But PRO doesn’t only mean taking great shots. You must know how and where to sell your pics. Biggest problem for many people.

  • These are my very best portraits:
    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulosacramento/206484863/’ title=’Turn on your shoes’ url=’http://farm1.static.flickr.com/57/206484863_9abe8bf64d.jpg’]
    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulosacramento/1198699577/’ title=’VĂ©rtice do desencontro’ url=’http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1389/1198699577_d1fbfff86c.jpg’]
    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulosacramento/3518319114/’ title=’Perfume’ url=’http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3388/3518319114_502f6d92cb.jpg’]

  • Tuhin,

    Great portraits …. I’m very impressed keep on shooting…..

    I’m heading to India for the whole month of July,.

    Just wondering if you can recommend some “must see” places for me to photograph?

    Thanks in advance…

    I can’t wait to take photos in India…

    I’m excited!!

  • Thank you for sharing your thoughts and images. I usually use flashes for fill on portraits, but I see your point on being less intrusive with using available light when making candid shots. You image 6 of the man is amazing and very expressive.

  • I think that all these pictures just let me “wow”. Great protraits. I’m very impressed!!!

  • Great Pictures and good tips. Thanks for sharing.

  • samer

    great and useful and brief
    Thank you very much

  • Kuhu Mannan

    your article is a good one………… and i’ll keep in mind your tips……………… hope they’ll help me to capture good portraits.. as I am a big fan of portrait photography.. đŸ˜€

    here goes 3 of my fav portraits by me..:D

    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/44404846@N02/4319557802/’ title=’Arita..( a doll holding a doll)’ url=’http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2681/4319557802_88b28d43c4.jpg’]
    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/44404846@N02/4300659829/’ title=’Ah…. ~*EXPLORED*~’ url=’http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2792/4300659829_11d68d6b5d.jpg’]
    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/44404846@N02/4319084847/’ title=’Trio……..’ url=’http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2697/4319084847_1f77b87415.jpg’]

  • supriya

    no words to say..
    awesome pics…

  • Veerendra

    How to take photos in streets?
    U asked the permission of the people? or just clicked without their ?

    I don’t know how to interact with people….

    How to ask them for a photo? or what to tell them after taking their photos?

    Is there any tips for street photography?

  • Thank you so much for the useful tips…. Myself & my wife have started up a company here in Edmonton that deals mainly with Photography and these information is very valuable to us.

  • willi

    inspiring tips. hopefully i will try some

  • Great pics and good advice. Just got back from India and people are really happy to be on picture. I got some good shot there, even if I’m far from your result…
    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/23543178@N06/4628813705/’ title=’Rameswaram NB (1 of 11)’ url=’http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4022/4628813705_eff6d703fd_o.jpg’]
    Some more pics on my blog too.

  • tvishi

    those were some very good pictures. i’m inspired. great job.

  • “If you need to take a closer shot, approach your subjects confidently. Show your camera to them and ask for permission (of course with a smile please!)”

    Thanks for reminding me about this. Yes, sometimes, I feel less confident about asking people their permission. But later I think, this in the only way to get their photograph. If we don’t ask, we will no get.

  • Great article, great detail in the photos and thanks for the tips.

  • Veronica

    I am always too worried to publish photos of people on the internet because I don’t have model releases. What are the rules around this? Do you have releases for all the shots you have shown us?

  • arun vijay

    realy useful tips for every beginners like me..tanx a lot

  • I endorse the “WoW” because this is what I try to capture. There must be something in our images to cause someone to look a little longer…some WoW’s can be bigger than some and it can be captured with proper observation and patience…

    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/40322209@N07/4043231993/’ title=’dance @ Freedom House rEVOLution’ url=’http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2438/4043231993_5e2238a500.jpg’]

    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/40322209@N07/4094516113/’ title=’onlooker @ Pilgrimage ii’ url=’http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2501/4094516113_e05f874f98.jpg’]

    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/40322209@N07/4406925000/’ title=’TOB – February 28th 2010 025′ url=’http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4023/4406925000_48611e7208.jpg’]

    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/40322209@N07/4771144047/’ title=’Ruselle & Anita – Chapter Three 007c’ url=’http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4073/4771144047_50b3b4cbe7.jpg’]

  • I fully endorse having the “WoW” elements included in your image. I wished that I could post some of my stuff but I keep getting some challenges. Nice topic.

  • Awesome and really strong portraits in this post.

  • Roy

    Fantastic portraits! Your photos here really have the “WOW” element. I especially like the first portrait, photography is all about the moment. Keep up the great work!

  • Thanks for the tips of dressing casual. I do dressed up but still comfortable for photography since I don’t like the stereotype thoughts that most photographer are sloppy dresser.

  • AndrĂ© Lanouette

    Thanks for those great tips. As a begginner in photography, I’ll make sur to do my best to remember everyone of them. I’m sure they’ll be most useful.

    I really find your photograph of the orphan boy stunning. I stopped and contemplated it for a long time. I really appreciate your work!

  • Its really gorgeous photos. Awesome idea and you have represent it awesomely. I am really impressed with the quality of article. I enjoy it.. And I thank u very much. http://mp3freesongs.net

  • GH

    worst image selection for portrait photography article.

  • there are many good articles likes to be good parts of its
    Jobskeeda

  • thegirlwiththecamera

    Amazing portraits. So much mood in them.

  • jumbybird

    You do know that portraits aren’t all about banks of lights in a studio with artificial backdrops and tons of makeup and fancy clothes, right?

  • Friend2303

    Fabulous pics. Just curious – how do you explain your “reason” for wanting to click a picture to the subject. I have been working on my portraiture skills for a year now – and been working on a 100 Strangers project and doing so relatively successfully (though most subjects are women with terrific eyes):

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/vijaybrittophotography/albums/72157649445819603

    But during a short trip to India (am a Indian based in USA) I have really struggled to move the project forward though there is no shortage of wonderful interesting faces and colorful vibrant backgrounds. On most times its my inability to articulate the purpose of why I want their picture. Hence seeking your advice since you seemed to be doing so well here.

Some Older Comments

  • AndrĂ© Lanouette January 14, 2011 02:05 pm

    Thanks for those great tips. As a begginner in photography, I'll make sur to do my best to remember everyone of them. I'm sure they'll be most useful.

    I really find your photograph of the orphan boy stunning. I stopped and contemplated it for a long time. I really appreciate your work!

  • VanillaSeven August 28, 2010 01:13 pm

    Thanks for the tips of dressing casual. I do dressed up but still comfortable for photography since I don't like the stereotype thoughts that most photographer are sloppy dresser.

  • Roy August 20, 2010 11:44 pm

    Fantastic portraits! Your photos here really have the "WOW" element. I especially like the first portrait, photography is all about the moment. Keep up the great work!

  • Antony Pratap August 18, 2010 09:08 pm

    Awesome and really strong portraits in this post.

  • Christopher aka Paul August 4, 2010 07:08 am

    I fully endorse having the "WoW" elements included in your image. I wished that I could post some of my stuff but I keep getting some challenges. Nice topic.

  • Christopher aka Paul August 4, 2010 06:51 am

    I endorse the "WoW" because this is what I try to capture. There must be something in our images to cause someone to look a little longer...some WoW's can be bigger than some and it can be captured with proper observation and patience...

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/40322209@N07/4043231993/' title='dance @ Freedom House rEVOLution' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2438/4043231993_5e2238a500.jpg']

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/40322209@N07/4094516113/' title='onlooker @ Pilgrimage ii' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2501/4094516113_e05f874f98.jpg']

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/40322209@N07/4406925000/' title='TOB - February 28th 2010 025' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4023/4406925000_48611e7208.jpg']

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/40322209@N07/4771144047/' title='Ruselle & Anita - Chapter Three 007c' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4073/4771144047_50b3b4cbe7.jpg']

  • arun vijay July 22, 2010 06:03 pm

    realy useful tips for every beginners like me..tanx a lot

  • Veronica July 20, 2010 09:21 pm

    I am always too worried to publish photos of people on the internet because I don't have model releases. What are the rules around this? Do you have releases for all the shots you have shown us?

  • David June 24, 2010 08:52 am

    Great article, great detail in the photos and thanks for the tips.

  • chusnul khairuddin June 21, 2010 04:13 pm

    "If you need to take a closer shot, approach your subjects confidently. Show your camera to them and ask for permission (of course with a smile please!)"

    Thanks for reminding me about this. Yes, sometimes, I feel less confident about asking people their permission. But later I think, this in the only way to get their photograph. If we don't ask, we will no get.

  • tvishi June 12, 2010 03:07 pm

    those were some very good pictures. i'm inspired. great job.

  • Sylvain Letellier May 31, 2010 03:46 pm

    Great pics and good advice. Just got back from India and people are really happy to be on picture. I got some good shot there, even if I'm far from your result...
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/23543178@N06/4628813705/' title='Rameswaram NB (1 of 11)' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4022/4628813705_eff6d703fd_o.jpg']
    Some more pics on my blog too.

  • willi May 31, 2010 03:13 am

    inspiring tips. hopefully i will try some

  • John Gil Bryan Q. Agoncillo May 30, 2010 02:17 pm

    Thank you so much for the useful tips.... Myself & my wife have started up a company here in Edmonton that deals mainly with Photography and these information is very valuable to us.

  • Veerendra May 29, 2010 01:40 pm

    How to take photos in streets?
    U asked the permission of the people? or just clicked without their ?

    I don't know how to interact with people....

    How to ask them for a photo? or what to tell them after taking their photos?

    Is there any tips for street photography?

  • supriya May 28, 2010 10:58 pm

    no words to say..
    awesome pics...

  • Kuhu Mannan May 25, 2010 03:26 am

    your article is a good one............ and i'll keep in mind your tips.................. hope they'll help me to capture good portraits.. as I am a big fan of portrait photography.. :D

    here goes 3 of my fav portraits by me..:D

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/44404846@N02/4319557802/' title='Arita..( a doll holding a doll)' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2681/4319557802_88b28d43c4.jpg']
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/44404846@N02/4300659829/' title='Ah.... ~*EXPLORED*~' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2792/4300659829_11d68d6b5d.jpg']
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/44404846@N02/4319084847/' title='Trio........' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2697/4319084847_1f77b87415.jpg']

  • samer May 22, 2010 07:09 pm

    great and useful and brief
    Thank you very much

  • DSLR-Flo May 21, 2010 01:19 am

    Great Pictures and good tips. Thanks for sharing.

  • Rhalmi Mohammed May 18, 2010 10:09 pm

    I think that all these pictures just let me "wow". Great protraits. I'm very impressed!!!

  • Ronaszegi May 18, 2010 10:48 am

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and images. I usually use flashes for fill on portraits, but I see your point on being less intrusive with using available light when making candid shots. You image 6 of the man is amazing and very expressive.

  • Eden Connell May 16, 2010 02:30 pm

    Tuhin,

    Great portraits .... I'm very impressed keep on shooting.....

    I'm heading to India for the whole month of July,.

    Just wondering if you can recommend some "must see" places for me to photograph?

    Thanks in advance...

    I can't wait to take photos in India...

    I'm excited!!

  • Paulo Sacramento May 15, 2010 01:42 am

    These are my very best portraits:
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulosacramento/206484863/' title='Turn on your shoes' url='http://farm1.static.flickr.com/57/206484863_9abe8bf64d.jpg']
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulosacramento/1198699577/' title='VĂ©rtice do desencontro' url='http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1389/1198699577_d1fbfff86c.jpg']
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulosacramento/3518319114/' title='Perfume' url='http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3388/3518319114_502f6d92cb.jpg']

  • Kai May 6, 2010 07:44 am

    Wow. Although the references to the pics are a little confusing your portraits are stunning. If you are that good on every occasion you really are a PRO.

    But PRO doesn't only mean taking great shots. You must know how and where to sell your pics. Biggest problem for many people.

  • Rammohan May 5, 2010 04:13 am

    Great show case of Indian Portraits !! Very appealing to people in the west.

  • Colorado Wedding Photographer, JasonG May 4, 2010 05:50 am

    Great tips - fantastic images. Love the tip on the lighting. We're natural light shooters whenever possible (and that's most of the time). We're always looking for great natural light to shoot in... or shade, in order to get out of harsh light. We only use flash artistically - typically during the first dance.

  • aman rai May 4, 2010 04:30 am

    Beautiful shot especially the one of the cow herder girl, there is so much depth in her eyes.

  • Quazi Ahmed Hussain May 3, 2010 07:01 pm

    Since there's no reply to my question re use of A-DEP mode for portrait photography; I've done the test myself. For indoor single or group portraits; it doesn't work very well. However, further tests remain to be made. In any case, being a nature photographer, I may not go for an in-depth research. Despite all the foregoing, A-DEP might play a role for landscape photography. Let me work it out and will let you know when possible.

  • Nicole May 3, 2010 12:33 pm

    @Tuhin Subhra Dey I love your work it is absolutely beautiful. I wish you much success. If possible, without revealing any of your "trade" secrets, can you share some of your PP tips ? I'm new to both photography (been shooting about 4 months) and Lightroom . I'm struggling with what to do inside of LR.

  • marji May 2, 2010 10:53 pm

    That's a good idea Tuhin, and finally i had some time to read completely this page.
    It's very interesting, sorry that i'm a bit late but you know where i was :)
    Cheers!

  • Tuhin Subhra Dey May 2, 2010 10:22 pm

    Hello friends, finally I have opened a facebook fan page for me. Main credit goes to Jennifer though..:)

    Link : http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/pages/Tuhin-Subhra-Dey-photography/113596648680589

  • Quazi Ahmed Hussain May 1, 2010 02:37 am

    Now on portrait photography. Have any of you tried the A-DEP mode (on Canon DSLR) for portraiture? In case u did, what are your experiences? Thanks in advance.

  • Colin Parker May 1, 2010 12:07 am

    the article is very inspirational and all the folks that commented on the post gave some nice tips too. thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  • Mark Pashia April 30, 2010 03:06 am

    @Karen Stuebing --

    The dumpster diver is very typical and the key is to take those "pose" shots that they seem to want and then get them to go back to what they were doing to get the shots you want. You will probably discard the "pose" shots, but you made them happy by taking them and that helps you get the shot you wanted anyways.

    I often take those shots and show them on the camera display, then ask them to go back to what they were doing and forget I am there. Now both of us are happy.

  • Jennifer Moore April 30, 2010 01:03 am

    Tuhin, you don't have to be. I started my company in 2008 and am not doing a whole lot yet, but the Facebook page gives me a free way to have an online presence while I build my web site, and it allows me to interact with colleagues and prospective clients and still maintain a modicum of anonymity.

    You should do what makes you comfortable, but I recommend setting up a fan page or a blog so people you don't know/who don't know you can find you.

    Either way, you do very lovely work!
    Jennifer

  • Tuhin Subhra Dey April 29, 2010 05:38 pm

    @ Jennifer, I am to shy to open a facebook fan page for me by myself. Moreover , I don't think that I have reached up to that level so that I can create something like "Tuhin Subhra Dey photography ". :
    Thanks a lot friends. for liking my efforts and constantly encouraging me.

  • Prad April 29, 2010 02:35 am

    Amazing Potraits..

    The first pic is class of its own..

  • Jennifer Moore April 29, 2010 02:24 am

    Your portraits are amazing, and you've given some really good foundational tips. I will echo the sentiment that Europeans and particularly Americans can be funny (at the very least) about having their picture taken.

    You really do have to know the local culture in which you're shooting.

    Keep up the good work! Why not set up a Facebook fan page and go for it?

    Jennifer Moore
    JenniferLynn Productions, LLC

  • an03nk April 28, 2010 02:58 am

    thanks for the tips and tricks before...
    but i want to ask you one thing if you dont mind...
    how you avoid the grainy texture when you use high ISO?
    thank you

  • Lloyd Barnes April 27, 2010 05:11 am

    Your portraits are amazing!

  • GuĂ°mundur MĂ¡r April 27, 2010 04:32 am

    Wow. Great tips and fantastic photos. I added you on Flickr and am looking for to seeing more good work from you.

  • Andrea April 27, 2010 02:18 am

    Excellent tips and great shots! Thank you for sharing!

  • Matthew April 22, 2010 07:12 am

    What an inspiration for a budding amateur! Thank you for the tips and examples.

  • Mark April 16, 2010 08:15 am

    These are useful tips especially the in asking permission to the subject. I'll share this to my students...

  • Sugan April 15, 2010 07:21 pm

    the first photo in the article made me read the whole article

  • saqibmoghal April 12, 2010 04:50 pm

    thanks to share these tips.

  • Tuhin Subhra Dey April 10, 2010 08:31 pm

    Thank you so much again.
    I have opened my EXIF in flickr, you can check it...:-)

    Have a great weekend my friends...

  • Beth April 10, 2010 08:25 pm

    Those portraits are just incredible. The best portraits I think I have seen! Thank you so much for a wonderful informative article.

  • Eeps April 10, 2010 04:37 pm

    @shweta: Soft sunlight normally refers to the sunlight occurring around the "golden" hours. These are right around sunrise and sunset. Harsh sunlight is what you get around noon time. Most photographers prefer the lighting provided by the golden hours as it tends to lend a dramatic effect, especially when it comes to landscapes. In portraiture, most experienced photographers would also advise against taking pictures in harsh sunlight. If you must, try to take them when the subject matter is in a shaded area to diffuse the light and effects of the sun.

    As an aside, you should also avoid shooting into the sun as this will result in underexposed shots or flaring and ghosting in your shots. As much as possible, try to have the sun behind you or to your side when taking a photo, be it landscape or portrait. Note that like all rules in photography, these were also made to be broken. Feel free to do so at your discretion.

    @Tuhen: Great photos. I am particularly impressed with the one of the angry sadhu. It looks posed which makes the fact that it was candid simply astounding. It is also refreshing that you were able to take such WOW photos without having to resort to using equipment which costs thousands of dollars. More power to you and looking forward to seeing more of your work. It would also be appreciated if you could post exif data (camera and lens used, focal length, aperture, ISO, etc.) like the pros do. If you want to be one, start practicing like one, right?

  • Quazi Ahmed Hussain April 10, 2010 01:50 am

    For taking good group pictures, what shout be the settings? How about using the A-DEP (on Canon)?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Swarnab April 9, 2010 07:51 pm

    I loved your portraits. But you could also try and put some variety in your kitty. What concerns me is the fact that Indians also see the world through the eyes of the West. Why should there be only sadhus, poor people, beggar children, and native people in our photos? it might seem exotic to the foreign eye, but for us Indians, it's just part of the ambience. I think it's time to move out of our post colonial approach. By the way, I really loved the ones you posted on orkut & flickr!!

    chaliye ja :)

  • Ivor Morgan April 9, 2010 06:22 pm

    Tuhin

    An excellent article accompanied by first rate portraiture. Thank you!

  • johnp April 9, 2010 10:37 am

    I agree with everyone, fantastic photos, I would think we will be hearing more about you in the future, keep the images coming . India certainly helps with the "wow" factor. I have always felt after returning from India how less vibrant Australia can seem ( you just have to look harder here whereas India is in your face from the moment you get off the plane). Can't wait to get back to southern India later this year. You have set a higher benchmark for me now though.

  • Brent April 9, 2010 08:12 am

    Also meant to add that while it's a matter of personal taste, I completely disagree with making "natural light" the holy grail of photography. Clearly you're messing with it by moving your setting to "cloudy" which then changes the color/tones entirely...but there's no point to having someone's face obscured--especially their eyes--for lack of light...or in blowing out all the rest of the details--whether on them or the background, even if you're good/fast enough to change the lighting to make their eyes pop.

    Then you're also depriving yourself of some amazing backlit/sunset scenes that can produce dramatic results. I find it usually better to have a "distracting" flash go and get great detail, especially of a face, than to not and have it obscured/fuzzy etc.

  • Brent April 9, 2010 08:05 am

    Love the images--but as for the instructions about shooting--I think that is much more about local culture, and what you're trying to do, i.e. in Europe they are MUCH more privacy oriented [and some laws back them up on that] so they tend not to like to have their photo taken.

    In the US, you are allowed to take photos of anyone in public, at any time. The problem is that some people believe they get to control their images, i.e. that they should be paid, so they don't want it taken unless they are. Since I'm doing candid shots 90% of the time, I don't want people to think they get to control if someone snaps a shot of them, although I'm using a telephoto most of the time.

    If I want to get more than a couple of candid shots, I'll confidently walk up to them and say that I'm a professional [sports] photographer, and what my objective is...and offer to send them some samples via email, and they usually want to cooperate then.

    The reality is that if you want to photograph someone in public, you can have a great telephoto and they'd never know it. The fact that you're within visual range doesn't mean you have the burden as a photographer to secure their permission, nor does it make you "uncool" to not get it. But being mobile, i.e. on a bike does help sometimes :)

  • Nathan Gesner April 9, 2010 06:37 am

    Thanks! Somehow I managed to miss that entire paragraph but read all the others!!!

  • Tuhin Subhra Dey April 9, 2010 06:02 am

    Thank you so much friends. I am extremely overwhelmed to receive your comments and encouragements.

    @Nathan gesner,
    If you read the article carefully, you will find that I have mentioned my gears. It is also mentioned in my flickr profile page .Here is the complete list for you.
    1. Canon 450D with 18-55 mm , 55-250mm , 50mm (1.8) and a Tamron 18-270 (which I rarely use)
    2. Fuji S8000fd P & S camera.

    @Peter Muzyka, thank you sir. I hope someone will offer me a job..:-)

    @naidu, there are some pps , but they are minimum. Because of 2 reasons.
    a) I am very poor in PPs. I need to learn from somebody. I use PS Lightroom for editing.
    b) I don't have time at all. My job does not allow me to practice and dedicate time for photography properly.

    @Ron Cornelison, thank you very much. But I do not follow any specific work flow. But of course I use some tools more than the others.

    @Sweetrosalyn, thanks for the question. In fact I meant those whom I used to meet everyday on my way to University/ office , be it a middle class office clerk, or a vegetable seller or college Students or those sadhus / priests. Actually, being an Indian , I had some idea , whom I should ask for a photo and whom not to.

    Thank you so much friends.. I really appreciate your time. If you have any question , write me at : tuhinsubhradey@gmail.com..

  • Nathan Gesner April 9, 2010 05:16 am

    I love that first picture!!!!!! I notice none of your photos have exif data and I'm wondering what camera and lens you are using? My images don't get close to the level of detail you do and I'm wondering if you have a better lens or is your camera body just that much better? By the way, I'm using the Olympus E-520.

    Thanks for sharing these beautiful images!

  • Naidu April 9, 2010 04:55 am

    Fantastic !! Thanks for sharing tips. Any post processing done on these pictures ?

  • Peter Muzyka April 9, 2010 03:33 am

    Tuhin Subhra Dey, you are an amazing portrait photographer. You say that you would like to become a full-fledged professional some day, you may be one now. It appears that all you need is a proper venue to be paid properly for your excellent talent. Thank you for sharing the tips as well as your beautiful portraits of real people.

  • shelli April 9, 2010 02:52 am

    Wonderful tips and superb photos.

  • Barbara Yasuhara April 9, 2010 02:41 am

    WOW images and WOW tips! Loved the sharpness in your shots and love the fact you talk about your gear.

    Who says you need a lot of money to capture WOW images! What one really needs is the gift as seen here!

    Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful work!

  • Ankita Paul April 9, 2010 01:50 am

    Hi Tuhin,
    amazing photos. Each of your pics are telling stories.

  • Karen Stuebing April 8, 2010 08:04 pm

    These examples are so awesome, I find it intimidating to even try to get such fantastic results. :)

    I really hate program mode because I'm such a control freak and the camera doesn't always get the light right. But I am paying attention to your tip for using AV mode. I can't count how many shots I've missed in manual mode, twirling the aperture and shutter dials.

    I actually don't ask permission per se for street candids of people just walking by. I hold my camera in the air and point my finger at them. People always respond by either smiling, nodding, frowning or hiding. :)

    If I want to actually shoot them up close and personal, then I ask. I also tell them I may use it on my blog and ask if that's okay. Not sure that is as legally binding as a release but it's better than nothing.

    I recently shot a dumpster diving woman. I went over and talked to her first and asked permission. She struck a pose and smiled. I then asked her to just do her dumpster thing so I could shoot her from the back. That was what I need for the shot to work.

    Mixed Messages.

    I find public events are great for practicing because there are so many people with cameras taking photos that there isn't so much reluctance of having one pointed at you. As long as it's not me. :)

  • Odai April 8, 2010 06:55 pm

    Great pictures and good points. Everyone always loves taking pictures in India! The culture is so colorful and passionate. There a are few possibilities why people in India are more open to photography
    1. that you as a visitor or as a foreigner might spark interest in the locals themselves. 2. In India most of the population has and will live their whole life in very tight and confined conditions and as such are generally accustomed to constant social contact.

    Unfortunately in Europe the culture is getting more individualistic and self absorbed and as such someone taking a picture instantaneously sparks in many paranoia: why are they taking a picture of me, do I have food on my chin, what will they do with the picture etc? In general in the west someone taking a picture without approaching feel that their own private space has been violated and can not take the gesture as a compliment. Hence I guess the best is just to be open minded yourself and have a chat with who ever you are capturing and you never know what great things might happen. Great post and can not wait to go back to India !

  • Richard Hall April 8, 2010 03:07 pm

    Isn't it strange how many of us hide behind our cameras and are shy to ask people for a photo. This happened to me recently in Sanur, Bali. There was a lovely young pregnant lady with extensive tattoos which would have made a beautifull study, I saw her many times sunbating on the beach but could not bring myself to approach and ask the question, I kick myself every day for being a coward. Hopefully I can do better in the future. Who knows they could have been pictures like these, but now we will never know.

  • Calvin Kwok April 8, 2010 12:41 pm

    Excellent images, Tuhin! Thanks for sharing.

  • Allison Carenza April 8, 2010 12:04 pm

    Very very cool shots. Great detail. You like to get in close like me. I think it's all about getting in close!

  • Mei Teng April 8, 2010 10:45 am

    You have captured beautiful portraits and thanks for the great tips!

  • Ron Cornelison April 8, 2010 09:28 am

    Tuhin Subhra Dey: although a serious amateur now but I cherish a keen dream of becoming a full-fledged Pro photographer someday in future.
    I think you are well on your way, I really enjoyed the photo's and your information on capturing portraits. Also I admired how good your photos looked on the DPS web site compared to other photos posted in the past, perhaps an article on your work-flow to prepare them for display in the near future?
    Good Shooting
    Ron

  • Jen at Cabin Fever April 8, 2010 08:21 am

    Great advice! I am about to delve into portrait taking for the first time here very shortly! I am nervous and apprehensive, which is why my normal subjects have been landscapes and nature. Thanks for sharing this. I will keep these tips in mind and probably come back to them to review.

    Cabin Fever in Vermont

  • Steve Szudzik April 8, 2010 06:11 am

    Fantastic pictures, very powerful imagery for sure!

  • Sweetrosalyn April 8, 2010 06:06 am

    Great post with some great photos - thank you for taking the time to share it. However, I'm troubled by this section: 'I have always found it much easier to shoot in India. Usually common people feel flattered when someone takes their pictures [...] However in Europe, I have always found it difficult [...]'

    What do you mean by common people, exactly? It's a pretty loaded term, especially in this context. I'm hoping the wording here is accidentally ambiguous, but I'd appreciate a clarification.

    Thanks!

  • Jessica April 8, 2010 04:36 am

    lovely photos! they capture the details extremely well. thanks for the portrait tips! i also think it's important to "read good photos" regularly. a site i'd like to recommend is www.viewbug.com! it is a growing photo community filled with amazing digital photography.

  • Photografied April 8, 2010 03:32 am

    im pretty sure that the first portrait on this page is the most awesome picture i've ever seen.

  • Jason Collin Photography April 8, 2010 03:05 am

    Very nice work. It was a great photo story. Tack sharp images.

    Getting permission does not allow for the candid moment, but can let you setup for a nice eyes into the lens portrait. Most definitely if someone says no or motions not to take her/his photograph, do not. I know some that still do and it is just not cool to do and creates a bad impression of photographers.

    I have begun doing "street portraits" where I setup my gear and ask people if I can make their portrait:

    http://jasoncollinphotography.com/blog/2010/4/1/street-portrait-series-01-university-of-tampa.html

  • Partha Pal April 8, 2010 02:48 am

    Useful tips, nice examples with good elaboration.
    Partha

  • shweta April 8, 2010 02:12 am

    extremely informative - d article is edgin me on to read more abt the finer nuances o my camera. wud u temme what is it dt u mean by soft sunlight?

  • Yogendra Joshi April 8, 2010 02:02 am

    lovely photos and equally good commentary!! I am too bad at portraits... i somehow can't find enough courage to get out and ask strangers for a photo!! but this will test me!!

  • Nikki April 8, 2010 01:34 am

    Don't see the pic of the flute player and attentive dog either...

    Beautiful portraits, tho. And it gives me encouragement that the author's gear is not a $5,000 full frame and high-end L glass -- makes me think that, with practice, I can achieve similar results without having to rob the local bank branch.

  • Tuhin Subhra Dey April 8, 2010 01:18 am

    Thank you very much Greg and Lucie. But I must say that there is a small error in the article . To find the photo of those school girls during rain as well as the flute player, please check my flickr link.

  • Greg Taylor April 8, 2010 01:11 am

    These portraits are amazing. Lots of drama and emotion. I agree with getting permission as you are becoming intimate with the subject. Focus on the eyes - the eyes will tell you everything. Great post.

  • Tuhin Subhra Dey April 8, 2010 12:57 am

    Thanks everyone for sharing my tips. However those who may be thinking where is the pic of those scoolgirls during rain , here it is :

  • Lucie April 8, 2010 12:14 am

    I'm glad you emphasized asking permission before taking a shot. I find it really unethical and disturbing when people point a camera in someone's face and take a picture without asking (hey, I wouldn't like it!). I traveled with a photographer in India who asked permission every time he wanted a shot of someone and as a result wound up with powerful, intimate portraits he wouldn't have gotten otherwise. The worst they can say is no (but most said yes).

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