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Capturing character

Capturing character - Let your portraits tell a story by capturing some character.

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Category : Portraits and People
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In a world where we are so used to seeing blemishes removed and waists clinched in it's great to see a portrait that really captures a person's character and shows them for who they really are.
Shirley by stix
Photo by Martin Jordan (Stix).

Gear
A medium telephoto lens is great for getting in close to your subject to see the lines and marks that tell a story on their face. While a slightly wider lens will put them into context and let the background tell their tale. Just be careful you don't distort their appearance with a wide angle lens and if you can, get down low. Available light is easier to work with, especially for character portraits where you're trying to make your subject as comfortable as possible, so leave the lighting kit at home and just use a little fill-in flash, if needs be, to add extra light in the scene.

Technique
Planning, knowing who you're going to shoot and a bit about their life is vital for not only breaking the ice, but it will also help you come up with a series of shots that will really capture their character. Some people are more open and talkative while others will take a little longer to open up to you. Watching their mannerisms, expressions and body language can help you grasp what type of character they are as can simply talking to them both before and during the shoot.

If you're not in a location that will add to your subject's story get in close to show the detail and emotion on their face. Some people don't like every wrinkle showing up but getting in close will really give you the chance to see what they're feeling. If they use their hands a lot try cropping in and isolating them. Tradesmen will have scars and other marks that can tell a story just as well as an expression on their face. If they're a dancer, why not focus on their feet and shoes. If you're out of the studio and the environment's fitting it can tell you a lot about their character. If they're a footballer for example, put them on a pitch and have props such as the goal, a ball and football kit around them. Don't overfill the scene though as this will just take the attention away from the subject.


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