A Beginner's Guide to Improving Your Portrait Photography

Portraiture can be a deceptively difficult genre. If you are looking to improve your images, check out this fantastic video tutorial. 

Coming to you from Jacek Sopotnicki, this practical video reveals four foundational rules rarely discussed on other platforms, offering you a toolkit to significantly improve your people photography. The first rule focuses on utilizing geometry and architecture not as mere backdrops but as integral components that complement the subject, enhancing the overall composition without overwhelming it. This technique, involving precise alignment and positioning relative to architectural elements, empowers you to craft images where every aspect of the scene contributes to a harmonious whole.

The discussion progresses to tackle common compositional challenges, such as distracting backgrounds and the inadvertent visual "decapitation" of subjects by poorly chosen background elements. Sopotnicki demonstrates how careful attention to the placement of lines and shapes within the frame can drastically improve the aesthetic quality of your portraits. These insights serve as a reminder to view your environment through a critical lens, selecting elements that bolster rather than detract from your subject’s presence.

Moreover, the video emphasizes the importance of background selection and its impact on the perception of the subject. By showing examples of both effective and ineffective background utilization, Sopotnicki provides a clear, practical guide on how to make informed decisions that enhance the subject's prominence and the overall visual appeal of the photograph. This approach not only refines your compositional skills but also encourages a deeper engagement with the shooting environment, fostering a more thoughtful and intentional photography practice and not just opting for the widest possible aperture. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Sopotnicki.

If you would like to continue learning about the art of portraiture, be sure to check out our range of tutorials on the subject in the Fstoppers store.

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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