When taking portraits...
Work out what is important to have in the frame. Frame appropriately. Then pose.
Turn the camera around. Many people forget to fill the frame and turn the camera vertical for a single portrait. Not that you have to do this every time.
Don't pose someone full frontal unless you want to make them look broad. Turn them so they are facing 3/4 on to the camera.
Shoot from above to slim.
Get the lens above the nose - looking up the nose is yuck. Stand up taller, stand on a step, get them to put their chin down.
Make sure there is light on the eyes, so you aren't giving them black holes. Turn them towards the light, lift their chin, lower the light.
Put weight on the back leg. Looks more inviting.
Give them something to do with their hands so they are more relaxed.
Watch out for the ears. Turn the head slightly side on to the camera so they don't look like elephant ears.
Get in close and personal.
Try different perspectives. Walk around your subject and look.
Don't crop at a joint (elbow, wrist, knee, ankle) - it will give the impression that the body doesn't continue outside of the frame.
Don't always make them look at the camera - they can look just past you, down their shoulder, at what they are doing.
Classic style is to place the eyes on one of the 'rule of thirds' lines.
'Do the duck.' Get them to stick their chin slightly out and down towards the camera to tighten the skin under their chin. Make sure they are 100% facing the camera, though. Otherwise, it will look odd. Don't let them overdo it either.
Holding the tongue on the roof of the mouth can also tighten the chin skin.
Taking photos at eye level is the most pleasing angle. Generally.
You don't always have to include the face. Focussing on a body part will still tell a story. Dancing hips, hands covering eyes, knobbly knees together, stressed hand.
Look at the background. Do you want context and story or just a pretty picture of the person?
Pull the person away from the wall, especially if using flash. If they stand near a wall, an ugly shadow will be cast behind them.
If you are taking a portrait (rather than telling a story), keep the background plain.
If you are trying to tell a story - move back, zoom out. Get the environmental area in. Anything that adds to the story.
Show their office, their craft, their home. Let the viewer see what they are doing. But try not to include anything that doesn't add to the story. Ie. Loads of road in front, lots of blank walls, lots of empty skies.
Focus on the eyes.
Take more photos than necessary. People blink, pull faces, look away.
Longer length lenses are most effective for portraits. Wide angle lenses (i.e., 24mm) tend to distort. If you do use a wide angle lens, keep people away from the edges of the frame and don't put them too close to the camera (unless creativity is what you are going for).
If people start squinting or get sore eyes, get them to look at something green (that isn't too bright) for a moment before taking the photo. Green soothes.
Talk lots. It will relax people.
Make fun of yourself.
Tell stories. Get people thinking about things they enjoy.
Demonstrate how you would like them to pose instead of talking them through it.
Scan their body and the background before taking the photo.
Give them a rest - faces will tighten up and look stiff.
Instead of saying 'smile' ask them to think about something that makes them happy.
Same goes with different emotions. Most people aren't actors, and emotions will show better when they are real rather than 'put on'.
Make sure exposure is for the face. Sometimes you may need to move the person away from dark or light situations to get the right exposure.
The most simple and beautiful light...
Pose your subject side on and close to a window. The window light will fall 3/4 on the face. Have a plain wall or background behind them.
If someone is in the shade with a bright background behind them, the camera will try and expose for the background also.
This can happen when there is a window behind someone, they are standing under a tree or are on the footpath in the shade of a building, and you are photographing out onto the street.
If you only have Auto on your camera/iPhone, move the person, so the background isn't so bright. Remember; you can adjust your exposure on your iPhone by tapping the screen (a sun will appear near the focus square) and swiping up or down.
Silhouettes are made when the light is measured off the backlight. Remember that you will not see much detail at all in the foreground so the shape should be interesting. A colourful sunset with no interesting shape doesn't make a beautiful photograph.
Avoid photographing people when the sun is overhead. It will give them dark eyes similar to shark eyes. Black and deep.
Move your subject to some shade. If there is no shade, either face them away from the sun (and expose for their face) or have them looking into the sun (ouch) making sure no horrible shadows are on their face.
One other alternative is to get them doing something and move out, so you have a more contexual 'story' photograph rather than portrait.
'If it bends, bend it' otherwise, people will look like soldiers. Bend elbows, put weight on one leg, tilt head, relax fingers.
Your subject doesn't always have to be centred - leave some negative space.
If you are leaving negative space, normally you would face the person into the photograph, so the eyes are drawn through the photo rather than off the side of the photo.
The triangle rule - try and compose, so the heads are in triangles. Not all in one even line or straight up and down.
Get them involved in their environment. Leaning on a desk, scattered over stairs, etc.Don't be scared of leaving a little bit of space around people.
Unless it's a 'social picture' avoid posing the group all in one line. Scatter them, seat some, lean some, group them in mini groups, turn some to face the other way...
Get down to their level. Shoot lots. Don't expect them to sit still and look at a camera. Get emotion.
Action shots will be much more entertaining and engaging than smiling at the camera photographs.
Use a high shutter speed. I try for at least 1/125 but prefer 1/250.
Take a series of photos showing their movement and expression.
Details - decoration, signage, facilities
Overview of location from different angles and viewpoints
Portraits/social photos - get names for use when you supply to magazines/newspapers etc
VIPs/speakers - take lots as sometimes it's hard to time when they will look good. Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror while talking? Try doing it slowly and see what your face does.
Candid - take lots. Again, so people are looking good. A long lens is perfect for these images as people won't be conscious of you. Get people interacting with the environment, laughing, talking, with food, etc.
The flash will freeze the action, allowing you to be flexible with your shutter speed.
If you want everything sharp use the following shutter speeds as a guide. These are assuming your subject is close to the camera, around 3m. The further your subject is away from the camera, the slower the shutter speed you can have.
Person walking 1/125
Person jogging 1/250
Cyclist/running/fast sport 1/500
If you want to have movement and blur in the photo, and maintain just the flash sharpness, start with a shutter of 1/30 or slower.
People at night
Use a slow shutter to allow the natural light to filter into the photograph. This allows more ambient light to be captured. If your camera is set for flash only, the background will be black. Having said this though, I wouldn't set my shutter slower than 1/60 - if someone moves, or if you move, the photo will be blurry.
Try a shutter speed of 1/15 or lower (with flash) for blurring people while dancing. The flash will freeze them enough to see the person, but the slow shutter will blur outlines, background and add movement.
Photographing people in their environment - unposed
Don't be shy. If you approach people the right way, they will usually be happy to have their photo taken.
If you see an opportunity, take the photo, then ask. That way you won't get a 'posey' photo. You can always get more if they are happy to have their photo taken. And you can always delete if they are not happy to be photographed.
Talk to people. Make friends. Your photos will have more meaning when there is a story behind it.
Use foreground and frames to lead the eye in.
Keep your shutter speed above 1/60 to prevent blur. Even at 1/60, if your subject moves their head, you may get blur.
Take lots of photos when people are moving about, or getting crowd shots. You can't see what everyone is doing, and there is nothing worse than getting back to the computer and seeing someone 'ruining' your only photo.
Different flash light
You expose for the ambient light but add flash to give a little sparkle in the eyes. Just enough to add highlights in the eyes and lightly soften shadows and lines.
As people age, unless you are going for dramatic, soft and even lighting is best.
Light is off to the side of your subject, causing a shadow on 1/4 of the face.
This type of light is beautiful, adding dimension and texture. Be careful of the nose shadow.
Move the light to either lengthen or shorten the shadow.
The more frontal the light, the shorter the nose shadow.
I like to join the nose shadow with the shadow on the side of the face, creating a triangular light under the eye or keep the shadow in close to the nose.
Creates a halo around the head.
Separates the subject from the background.
A backlight can be from directly behind the subject or off to one side.
Nine times out of ten I put the light 3/4 off to one side, the opposite side of the front light.
A backlight is normally mimicking the sun behind a person, so put it up high.
Be careful not to cast shadows on the face or have it too bright.
Frontal light creates minimal shadows.
Soft frontal light is one of the nicest lights for filling in shadows, wrinkles and imperfections. It replicates tone in a natural way (i.e.,. showing graduation between eye shadow colour or blush).
You and Your Rights:
For full details, contact www.artlaw.com.au or Australian Copyright Council.
If you want to use your image for a commercial purpose, you will need a Talent or Property Release.
If you are using the image for Editorial use only, you don't.
If you are on public property, you can photograph anyone you want, whether they are on public property or not.
However, some landmarks, buildings, and monuments are restricted. Especially when the photograph is for a commercial purpose.
Sydney Opera House precinct
Kakadu National Park
Australian National Botanic Gardens
plus much more.
Also, remember that artwork, sculptures and monuments may be protected by Copyright. Public artworks have some exceptions.
There is a lot of if's and but's with Copyright and Photographers Rights - check out the authorities websites for up to date information.
Take three different portraits utilising different techniques/light/situations and upload (at least one) to Facebook. Explain what you did and what you wanted to achieve.