Liverpool Chinatown Photographic Society

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Hints & Tips (Member's Contribution)

Tips for better portraits By Oscar Ip (source :

Get Closer: A common problem is standing too far back or not zoom in enough. Especially for head shots, get close so there is less background to distract from the subject. Same is with group photos. Instead of lining people up and having to move back, try and get people in rows.

Better Composition: A head in the middle of the photo is not very interesting, so compose your shot so the subject’s head is in the upper two-thirds of the frame or a bit to one side or the other. Also you can have your subject move into an interesting position.

Don’t Pose Your Subject: Unless you’re taking a portrait of a professional model, most people do not ‘pose’ very well. Try and get outside or somewhere your subject can move and look around. Move with them and snap the photos as they look around. You’ll be amazed at how much better your portraits will look.

Posing- Okay, if you have to pose someone, try some of these tricks pros use. Have the person look anywhere but the camera and then when you’re ready to snap have them look toward you. Another trick is to have the subject bend forward for a moment and then stand up and look at the camera. Making your subject laugh can help too. Also, don’t have your subject stand fully facing you. These head on shots are not flattering.

Be Aware of Lighting Conditions: Bright sun can cause deep shadows or make your subject squint. Try and find a shady spot or use the fill-flash option on your camera if it has one. Any strong light source can also cause shadows. Again, use a fill-flash or move the subject away to softer light source.

Take Lots of Photos: With a digital camera one can try lots of different techniques, angles and locations. Don’t be satisfied with a few photos. If inside, try and move outside and vice versa. Try different lighting and poses. This will give you plenty of options.

Learn Photo Editing Software: Even the simplest software is very sophisticated these days and can make a dull photo better by enhancing colours, contrast and composition. The web is full of helpful instructions on how to achieve certain effects.

These simple tips will improve your photos dramatically. The most important tip though is to practice! Keep your camera handy when people are around and get snapping.

Tips for storytelling photos

1. Be a backseat driver. I am the worst back seat driver I know. Even when I’m sitting in the passenger’s seat of someone else’s car, I am always scanning the road…the road directly ahead of me, the cars far far up ahead and even the shoulders. When I’m framing my shot, I am not only sizing up my main subject but my eye is scanning the whole scene at the same time. What’s in the background, what’s in the foreground? Are there secondary stories in the frame that help to tell my story? I’d rather do this in one image as opposed to 3 or 4 images on an album page to tell the same story. A great photograph takes more than a quick glance to take in.

2. Dress your background (or your foreground). This means that I am always hearing about “filling in the background”.  It’s okay to move stuff around to create your story in particular when I am on wedding shoots.

3. Anticipate & move your body. Most of the storytelling I do while shooting a wedding is not about moving stuff around. Most of it is already there, you just have to learn how to see it and to be ready for it. Truthfully you need to see what is about to happen. Being reactive is not always enough. So try to consider where your body position is relative to what you’re shooting and think about what is going to happen next. Are you high, low, left, right of your subject? Learn to position your body so that you are ready for what is about to happen. Even better if you can also nail that supportive/ secondary story. You have to move and wait. Anticipate where you need to be, move your body and then wait for the shot to come to you. With practice you’ll know where to be and when.