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A Guide to the Perfect Indoor Portrait

If you’re a photographer, you probably came to the point of wanting to go professional in photography at least once. One of the things that a photographer has to learn to become a professional is indoor portrait photography. Like every other type of photography, indoor portrait can be advanced best through experienced. Yet, in this article, you will find very useful tips and tricks to fast forward your way through the perfect indoor portrait.

1) Lighting


Lighting is the most essential, but sadly the hardest part of a perfect indoor portrait. You have many sources indoors, from natural light from a window to different combinations of household lights. If you want to direct a natural light source to your model’s face, you can use the curtains to your benefit and direct the light accordingly. Yet, if you plan to make a shoot looking down the model’s face, you definitely should go for household lighting as it will light the face from up. This will help you establish the ‘looking-down shot’ you desire. Of course, you can always close all the curtains and use your own flash or lighting, which will be more professional. Remember to never exceed ISO 800 if you’re shooting indoor portraits. Otherwise, your photographs will have image noise, which will ruin the portrait.

2) Camera settings to Certain Techniques

A good indoor portrait technique is adding drama to the photograph. In a portrait, you can either fully expose the face or light parts of the face to add drama. You can even edit the portrait afterwards and make it black and white to fully distinguish the exposed parts of the face. People usually use flash to add drama, but it isn’t the only or even the best way. First, if you have a DSLR camera, set your camera to manual to get the best highlights and shadows. Then, lower your ISO to darken the shadows; this will definitely strengthen the drama. For the highlights, you will need either a natural lighting or use the home lighting. If you decide to use natural lighting, narrow down the light to direct it to the face. It will add a great drama effect!

Another beautiful effect you can use for indoor portrait is the bokeh effect. The bokeh effect is simply the blurring of the lighting in the background. You can use this effect when you shoot indoor portraits for holidays or celebrations as the blurry lighting emphasizes a warm mood. The camera has to be fast for this effect, meaning that the shutter speed will be very low. Aperture should be set large between f/2.8 and f/1.4, otherwise you cannot achieve the ideal bokeh effect. Then you have to get close to your model and focus on him/her in order to make the background blurry. Now, since the background is blurry, the lighting will form the shape of filled circles. The bokeh effect is as simple as that!

3) A Mini Studio

If you decide to go a little professional, you can build your own mini studio in your home. You can build this studio for a small price. The most essential piece of a mini studio is a photographic flash/lighting. Without having control over lighting, you can’t enjoy your mini studio. You should put your lighting usually 30 degrees away from your camera. If you have the lighting behind you, then your shadow will block the ultimate exposure of your model’s face. Next, you will need to add several backdrops to help you achieve the best background according to your photographic theme. For example, you can buy backdrops in different colors to match with the model’s hair, skin, and dress color. Another great backdrop would be a few scenic backdrops to move on with a theme. Lastly, having a tripod would help a lot to have steady portraits. With these materials, your mini studio would be set to go.

With correct lighting, camera settings, and establishment of a mini studio, you will find your way through a perfect indoor portrait easily! You can always think creatively and build your own techniques for your unique effects.

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