How to Take Great Formal Portraits

Many new photographers struggle with taking professional looking portraits for things like company profiles, resumes, or other formal needs. Here are some tips to help you take better portraits in the studio.

Choose the Right Backdrop

Having a cluttered backdrop will pretty much ruin a formal photo. Your backdrop should be clean, preferably plain, and very subtle. This will make your subject stand out and not what’s behind him.

Use Soft Lighting

Do not use a big flash and fire it right in your subject’s face. Use softer lighting. Diffuse your flashes, bounce them off of walls, and try to get an even lighting with no harsh shadows.

Focus on the Eye

To get a tack sharp photo, put your camera’s focus point on the subject’s eye. This ensures that the overall portrait is sharp, and also help in developing that eye-to-eye connection between the subject and the viewer.

Don’t Go Too Wide

Your lens might be able to go super wide at f/1.2 or something, but you don’t have to open the aperture that much. Otherwise, parts of your subject’s face, especially the ears will go out of focus. So make sure you experiment a bit with which aperture value works best.