Simple Tips to Improve Your Travel Portraits

0Comments

Vietnamese_Woman_KavDadfar

Photographing people is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts of photography. Besides the great photos that you can acquire, for me it also means building a connection with a country and its many different kinds of people. Taking portraits of people means you need to get up close, and sometimes communicate with them, so you need to get over your shyness. Whether it’s a smile and pointing to your camera, or simply getting by with limited language, it’s incredible how receptive people are when you put in the effort.

Here are some simple tips once you’re ready to start photographing travel portraits:

Keep the Eyes Sharp

It doesn’t matter if the other features of their face are not in focus; if the eyes are not sharp your image will look blurred and won’t work. The ideal focal-length lens for photographing portrait is 80mm-105mm (hence why these lenses are often called portrait lenses). Aim to set your shutter speed to at least 1/125th of a second (faster if you can) to ensure there is no camera shake. A wide aperture of f/2-5.6 will ensure you have a nice blurred background, to draw the viewer to the face of your subject.

Venice_Man_Carnival_KavDadfar

Ensure that the eyes of your subject are sharp.

Think About the Light

In any form of photography, light is one of the most important elements of the photo. Overcast days are ideal for portraits outdoors as it offers a soft, even light, whereas strong sun on the person’s face will cause harsh shadows to appear. Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking portraits in this light, but you may need to think more about your composition. For example, you may want to show more of the person’s clothing to distract the viewer from their face, or you could use a flash to fill in the shadows. Sometimes the harsh shadows could actually enhance the photo by making it feel grittier.

Woman_Outside_KavDadfar

Cloudy and overcast days help ensure you get even lighting.

What’s in the Background

The most important element of head and shoulder portraits is a person’s face, so the viewer shouldn’t be distracted by elements around, or behind it. Avoid bright colours or strong patterns and designs in the background. Also, by having a wide aperture you can ensure the background is blurred which highlights the sharp parts of the photo even more (i.e. the eyes).

UAE_Man_KavDadfar

Clean backgrounds help make your subject stand out.

Art Direct Your Subject

Sometimes the difference between a portrait that works, and one that doesn’t, is just a few steps to the left or right, or it could be just stepping back into the shade rather than in direct sun. Sometimes simply moving a hand toward, or away from the face, can make a huge difference to the photo. So don’t be afraid to direct your model as to where, and how you want them to stand. Don’t worry if you don’t speak their language, a simple smile and pointing usually does the trick.

Venice_Woman_KavDadfar

This woman was standing in the sun so I simply moved her back a few steps so that I wasn’t getting harsh shadows on her face.

Keep Your Model Relaxed

Unless your model is a professional, chances are they are nervous and self-conscious about having their photo taken. So try to get them to relax if they look tense. Simply making them laugh can make a huge difference, and you’ll see that in your photos.

Thailand_Woman_KavDadfar

This woman was really nervous so I waited until she was distracted before taking the photo.

What is wonderful about portraits is that they can feel incredibly intimate and personal, and a great portrait will look fantastic in any portfolio. But the other great thing about portraits is that it is incredibly easy to practice. Friends, family and even colleagues, if willing, are all you need to practice so that you are ready for when you are on location or travelling.

Now it’s your turn. Share your photos, thoughts and tips below. 

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Kav Dadfar

is a professional travel and landscape photographer based in London. He spent his formative years working as an art director in the world of advertising but loved nothing more than photography and traveling. His images are represented by stock agencies such as 4Corners Images, Robert Harding World Imagery, Getty, Axiom Photographic, and Alamy and they have been used by clients such as Condé Nast, National Geographic, Wanderlust travel magazine, Lonely Planet, American Express, and many others.

  • Paulo Azevedo
  • Paulo Azevedo
  • nunnia_bidness

    spams

  • nunnia_bidness

    spams.

  • Paulo Azevedo

    say what?

  • nunnia_bidness

    spamz.

  • Alexis7856

    @nunnia_bidness:disqus ->>
    >

  • nunnia_bidness

    flagged.

  • admin_at_disqus

    you’re account has been band due to spamming. You are now band from this websight.

  • Paulo Azevedo

    Why are you marking me as a spammer? Did you even read the post where I’m commenting? The author asked for readers to share their own photos…

  • admin_at_disqus

    no more questions please

    you’re account is now band.

  • lydia.shook
  • Chinhómiah

    Fµcking idiot. Disqus bans are not announced in specific forums; they notify through your registered email. You look so desperate you had to use the handle “admin_at_disqus” to try and scare people. How old are you, schmuck? Seven?

  • admin_at_disqus

    Dear Chinmohah, you’re account is now band also. Please do not attempt to post more comment’s because your account is band.

  • The comment has been removed.

  • Kav Dadfar

    Sorry for the late reply everyone I’ve been in a remote part of Texas on a shoot.

  • Kav Dadfar

    Very nice Paulo. Beautifully composed and shot! Great work!

  • Kav Dadfar

    Mesmerising eyes! Great shot.

Join Our Email Newsletter

Thanks for subscribing!


DPS offers a free weekly newsletter with: 
1. new photography tutorials and tips
2. latest photography assignments
3. photo competitions and prizes

Enter your email below to subscribe.
Email:
 
 
Get DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS feed