Foundations

Your technical knowledge and skills empower you to take creative control. Understanding the nature of light enables you to manipulate it. Learning about the exposure triangle teaches you the limitations and compromises of digital photography. And the ability to shoot in manual mode means that you are making the decisions for your portrait photography, not your camera’s algorithm. Build your knowledge here in the Foundations section, then go get inspired by the tips, techniques and ideas across the rest of the site.

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Kit

With hundreds of different camera bodies and lenses to choose from, in addition to a limitless number of accessories, it’s tough to know where to draw the line when it comes to kit; there’s a fine balance between having what you really need and buying equipment that you’ll use only once.

Foundations: Choosing Your Camera

Obviously you won’t get far in photography without having the necessary kit – but which type of camera is best for portrait photography? There...

Foundations: Choosing A Lens

Your images will only ever be as good as the glass you use, so don’t blow all your budget on an amazing camera body and end up with a cheap or ki...

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Technical Skills

There are hundreds of choices to make when taking a portrait, even once you’ve selected a model and a location. Although this may seem daunting, it provides a creative difference between images taken by two photographers, even if they are shooting the same person in the same place, with the same kit.

Foundations: The Exposure Triangle

Exposure is the technical term for the creation of a photographic image. An exposure can be deemed underexposed, correctly exposed or overexposed a...

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Lighting

An amateur may not know quite why one portrait looks so much better than another one taken in slightly different lighting conditions. A subject will look at a shot of themselves and instantly assess: “Do I like how I look in this one?”, but not necessarily be able to understand what part light has played in their conclusion.

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Composition

Humans don’t absorb all the detail in a scene or image instantly, but instead we selectively scan it. Our eyes are first drawn to eyes and faces, certain colours and areas of high contrast. To test which area of an image is the main focal point, turn it upside down and note which area your eye is pulled towards. This trick turns the photograph into an abstract, making it easier to be objective.\

Foundations: Image Formats

The vast majority of cameras provide a set, rectangular image frame. However, photo editing software enables you to access other formats too, inclu...

Foundations: Cropping

A crop is the removal of unwanted elements from the frame in order to improve the composition or to increase the focus on other elements. For examp...

Foundations: The Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds provides a guide as to the most impactful place within the frame to place key elements. Imagine two horizontal lines that split ...

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Post Production

Some people are critical of postproduction, thinking a skilled photographer should get everything right in-camera. However, even the famous film photographers used postproduction, burning and dodging to enhance their work in traditional darkrooms. It is simply the second part of the creative process for producing the end image envisioned by the photographer.

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