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Katrin Eismann's Five Tips For Pleasing Portraits Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

21 April 2020

(Editor's Note: Photographer Katrin Eismann, a product manager at Adobe, has put together a few tips for shooting portraits, which is her specialty. You can see some of her work on her Instagram page.)

It's All About the Light

The best photos always start out with the best light and the light coming in through your windows changes over the course of the day and the seasons.

Take a moment to study the light in your home and see how it is more golden in the early morning or more dramatic in the late afternoon or how the light is different depending on the weather.

Use the light to set the mood. Ask your subject to move closer to a window to illuminate them. Soft window light can be very flattering and helps create memorable portraits.

Photographing Children

Drop down to a child's point of view to capture how they see the world and very importantly photograph kids as they are -- not as you want them to be.

As every parent knows, some days may be better than others, but all the days and moods make important memories.

Be silly -- remember that red rubber nose or goofy hat stuck in the closet? Get it out and be silly to create genuine emotion vs. 'posed smile-at-the-camera faces.'

Photograph everything -- bath time, nap time, snack time -- as you never know when that special moment will appear. Let your kids photograph you -- give them the phone or small camera so that they are involved and engaged.

Portrait Tips

If your camera allows you to control the focus and aperture, make sure that the eyes are pin-sharp and use a wider aperture (lower number) so that the background is softer and less distracting.

Speaking of distracting, the simpler the background the more the people will stand out.

As the photographer, know your camera and camera settings so that you are relaxed -- a relaxed confident photographer helps the subject be relaxed.

Set your camera to continuous shooting and shoot more frames than you think you need and then work with Lightroom to select the very best shot.

Self-Portrait Tips

A genuine self-portrait is more than a selfie. A sincere self-portrait tells a story of how you feel at the moment.

Experiment with photographing yourself at different times of day, explore getting close and abstracting yourself with an interesting frame or crop. Photograph your shadows, hands, reflections and those special items in your home that say something about yourself.

Use self-portraiture as a visual diary about how you feel at the moment -- those photos can be just for yourself as a record of a certain time in your life.

Find a few quiet moments to experiment with image processing to emphasize your mood with the Exposure, Color and Effects controls. Best of all, any changes you make today are completely adjustable tomorrow or in a year or longer.

Experimentation is your self-portraiture friend.

Portrait Processing Tips

Work with Lightroom on your phone, tablet or desktop to improve the overall exposure and color and experiment with cropping in on your subject.

Learn to use the Radial Gradient to add a hint of light to a face or to soften a background with negative Clarity and Texture to create a beautiful soft-focus effect.

Try out the Effects > Vignette slider to gently darken image edges to draw the viewer's eyes into the photograph and for a real classical look make sure to try out the black-and-white profiles, which often look great on portraits.


Following are a few links to some helpful Lightroom resources:

And here are some additional Lightroom photo editing tutorial resources:

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