Photography Course Online – Discover How to Take Stunning Black and White Portraits!

Everyone must have taken photos of their favourite family member or friend posing for them, and therefore, their portrait. Mostly these are taken in colour – but by taking a black and white portrait, the image becomes almost timeless, classy and can create flattering effects on an otherwise unflattering subject. This photography course online article looks at the magical world of monochrome portraits, providing, in no particular order, some tips to remember when taking your shots.

* Shoot in colour. This may seem strange when taking black and white images, but if you convert the images to black and white in Photoshop (or equivalent) in post-production, you also have a collection of colour shots you can use later.

* Try getting in close – real close. An image where you can clearly see each line on the subject’s face displays their character.

* Capture their natural expressions. We have all encountered the cheesy grin when someone poses – but seeing the subject in their natural state reveals much more and makes for a lasting, memorable shot.

* Create a moody atmosphere by providing some side lighting. This effectively throws one half of the face into shadow, and can make even the friendliest person appear rather menacing.

* Add a depth of field element. For example, ask the subject to partially cover their face with their hand, then move the hand closer to the camera. This adds a 3 dimensional feel, and makes an intriguing twist on a normal portrait.

* Make your subject look as ‘unposed’ as possible. Chat to them regularly throughout the shoot and make them feel at ease. Tell a few jokes and get them smiling. If they are enjoying the session, this will leap out from the printed images. A reliable photography course online will cover not just technical aspects, but also include techniques to relax your subject during a portrait session.

* A quirky look or other unnatural pose will tell the viewer something different about the subject’s personality and character.

* Carefully study your subject’s profile, and take some shots side-on. These can produce striking images, which the viewer would not be expecting. Prominent shapes of cheekbones, noses, lips can all be revealed.

* Contrast dark clothing against a light background to create impact.

* Frame the subject tightly. This provides an intimate portrait, and successfully eliminates any distractions.

* Try to take all types of shots. A photograph revealing a humorous side to an otherwise serious person will make for a captivating image.

* In post-production, experiment with selective and creative cropping of the image.

A successful black and white portrait can be more powerful than the equivalent colour image. It takes us to the bare bones of the subject, and gives an almost documentary feel to the picture. Black and white lends itself well to portraying characters, revealing raw emotion that does not always show up with the distraction of colour. If you are currently following a photography course online, submitting a selection of black and white portraits will become a strong addition to your portfolio.

Mildred K. Pearson

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