Be Inspired

6 Great tips for better portraits

Winter isn’t just about shooting landscapes, you can grab some great portraits too – just follow our advice for better people pictures

Good portraits don’t just happen, some planning is essential. Preparation can be a constant process; bookmark websites with images that inspire you, tear out pictures from magazines, grab shots of billboards that appeal. That way you’ll have some ideas to draw on.

When it comes to taking the pictures, share those ideas with your subject; see the shoot as a collaboration. Keep talking to them as you take pictures and show them the images on the rear LCD – silence isn’t golden in portraiture.

At this time of year, you may want to shoot indoors or out. Outdoors on a cloudy day, the light is beautifully soft, which is very flattering for portraits. Use a reflector to even the light up as much as possible and consider changing the white-balance to the Shade preset to warm up the scene. Sunny conditions work well too, but make sure you use a lens hood to avoid excessive flare and ghosting. Indoors, position your subject near a window for an available light shot or use flash lighting for greater control.

No matter where you work, keep the shooting time short, especially if you’re photographing kids.

Sharp focus on the eyes is crucial otherwise the portrait will lack impact, but don’t feel your subject has to look straight at the camera. Be bold with your compositions – you don’t have to take everything with the camera held upright.

When it comes to lenses, anything goes! The XF50-140mm and XF56mm APD lenses are obvious options, thanks to their excellent bokeh effects, but wide-angle optics are worth consideration, especially if you want to include more of the surroundings. Need some portrait ideas? Try these…

Open wide

Portraits aren’t all about cropping in close, they can also work well when shooting wide to include the surroundings. Use this approach when you want to tell more of a story with your subject, or simply want to make the most of a fantastic location you’ve found.

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Go for bokeh

Fujifilm’s new XF56mm F1.2 APD lens is perfect for portraits. Position your subject in front of a background with bright highlights, then use the maximum aperture for stunning bokeh effects. This approach also works well with other fast-aperture prime XF lenses.

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Keep it simple

If you’re shooting in a studio, don’t try to use too many lights. One main light and a reflector is all you need to get some great shots, especially if the light has an umbrella or softbox to diffuse the light for a more flattering result.

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Form a group

Make portraiture more social by shooting a group. Avoid lining everyone up in one row; try having some people sitting with others standing behind, or look for a slope or steps for compositional variety. Silhouettes like this work well, too. Take plenty of shots – you’ll be surprised how many group shots can be spoiled by one person blinking!

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Creative candids

Getting your subject engrossed in an indoor or outdoor activity gives you the perfect chance to shoot natural candids. Set your X-series camera to continuous AF and continuous shooting so you can keep up with any movement, then fire away. Choosing one of the Auto ISO options will increase your hit rate of sharp shots.

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Add some colour

When the weather is colder, natural colours are more muted. Give your portraits a colour boost by adding in bright accessories such as a hat, scarf, coat or gloves. Then select the Velvia Film Simulation mode to give them extra saturation.

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