November 2013
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5 Photo Tips – Shooting portraits – colors

This is a new series of posts that I am doing. The last such series (Shooting some good abstract photos) was about shooting abstract photos and boy is there is a lot to learn about letting your mind be free if you want to get some good abstract photos. The next series of posts will be about shooting portraits. When you think about portraits, you might think about getting a tripod for some rock-stable shots, about posing, about checking for light / exposure, whether to use Prime or Zoom lenses, or so on. All of these are important, but it is also important to understand the overall environment related to portraits – this could be the color of the environment, this could be the types of clothes being worn, and so on. However, a fair warning is that once you get into subjective parameters, opinions could change, the requirements could change, and so on, so change and twist these tips below into the way you want. And of course, some of this also varies depending on whether you are just doing this at a strictly amateur level and don’t care too much about the results, or are experimenting with portraits and want to tweak the settings.

Tip 1241 (Selecting the color of the outfit): When you would think of portraits, you would think of the posing, you would think of light angles, and so on. But it is equally important to understand the specific colors being worn by the subject of the portrait. Unless you are into the hard-core commercial area where even the dress is a part of the commercial setting, the photographer should work with the subject of the photo to select the color. People like to select specific colors that are their favorite or even change colors depending on their mood (or it can actually be the reverse where a bright color can made the mood more lively, depending on the individual). And also, the color may need a change in the setting, and also have some impact on the viewer of the photo. This is explored in the following tips for some specific colors.

Tip 1242 (Selecting a green or blue colored dress): Green is a natural color, very cool to the eyes of the viewer. Green has a number of shades though, varying from the subtle ones to the bright ones, so the actual subtle message to the viewers can vary. At the same time, when your subject has a green colored dress, the idea is to be away from natural greenery, else there can be some amount of merging of the colors and the outline of the subject could also vary.
When you select blue colored clothes, there is a general tendency that blue tends to appeal to males more than it does to females, so that needs to be kept in mind.

Tip 1243 (Selecting the brighter colors such as Yellow or Red): These colors jump out at the viewers, although with shades to both yellow and red, the message can vary a bit. However, the over-riding message is that of brightness and energy, although certain shades of red can seem to be aggressive. The use of such colors on adults is not easy given the message that they portray, but these colors are natural to children and expected, so portraits of children with these colors are perfectly natural. The background when using yellow or red needs to be thought through carefully, with yellow needing a background that is subtle, so that the yellow color comes out clearly.

Tip 1244 (Selecting darker colors such as grey or black): Darker colors such as grey or black fit into a more serious setting, especially one that is more suited towards an office or formal situation. It also looks good for those kind of family portraits where you have older people, although the same colors don’t really work well with children. However, when you are using darker colors, you need to be more careful when you are using automatic mode, since the camera’s meters may not work as well when you are focusing on these darker colors.

Tip 1245 (Using white): The color white, although a very simple color, can carry different emotions and feelings depending on the subject. For example, it can feel ethereal when a female is wearing a dress of white and be suitable for children, but the feeling is more mixed if a male subject is wearing it (but there are complexities depending on whether the white is a plain simple shirt or whether it extends to the overall dress). And of course, when the subject is wearing white, then the auto mode of the camera can deceive (similar to that of black), leading to the photo being darker or lighter. But, if the portrait tries to portray purity or innocence, then white it is. However, the surrounding cannot be a bright color since that would then totally tend to overshadow the white.

Gregory Heisler: 50 Portraits Family Portrait Photography 95 Inspiring Ideas for Photographing Your Friends

Some videos from youtube on Portraits:

Portrait Photography : How to Dress for a Portrait Sitting

Portrait Photography with Graham Monro

Natural light 50mm portrait photography

Direction of Light: Your Key to Better Portrait Photography

5 Min Portrait – Portrait Photography Full Photo Shoot

Read more about this in the next post (Portraits – Colors and Seasons)

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