How often do we marvel at a beautiful portrait shot of a human, animal, or even a tiny insect for that matter? And what exactly goes into getting one? IT programmer-turned explorer-photographer Girish Menon, who was in the city for a portrait photography workshop, answered these and more questions when we caught up with him recently.
Stating the basic difference between a regular shot and a portrait shot, Menon said that portrait shots give the audience an insight into the picture with one of the features or moments being highlighted. “A portrait highlights what is important in the frame so that it captivates the attention of the people,” he clarifies. He strongly believes that it is a window to the soul of the subject.
The right light
There are several aspects that bring a picture to life, be it the engaging subject or the background or even the moment captured but what remains constant in all these instances is the light. “If the light is right while shooting a portrait shot, one will be able to create magic,” Menon believes.
He says that if one wants to get a good shot in the outdoor setting, it is important to capture images either during the early hours of the sunrise or at dusk. “During these hours of the day, the light is more on the golden side which enhances the look of the image,” he explains.
He also adds that these are the times when the sun is not directly above the head in the sky which causes shadows under the eye and sometimes makes the picture look a bit grainy.
If one is opting for an indoor shoot, it is important for the photographer to invest in a flash or studio lights. An advantage that the indoor lighting has is that it can be controlled as per the wish of the photographer depending on what the theme of the shoot is.
Take your position
Another thing to keep in mind while shooting portrait shots is that the photographer has to shoot at the person’s eye-level. “Doing so brings out an honest picture and does not distort the proportion whatsoever,” Menon says.
It is also important to understand where to stand while taking a photograph. “The background in portrait photography plays an important role. You don’t want the background to be loud or bright as that would make it the centre of attention instead of the subject,” he says.
If the subject looks in the direction of the light, it’ll add a natural spark in the eye of the subject which will lift the quality of the shot. For that, Menon believes it is always a good idea to be engaged with the subject so that the subject is comfortable and the portrait shots come out well.
Giving a few tips on how to master the portrait shot, Menon says, “What draws a person to an image is the sparkle in the eyes of the subject,” which in the world of photography is known as catch-light. He believes that this brings the picture to life.