Photography is art and beauty in its own form. It’s subjective and it differs in the eyes of every individual. Regardless of that, I think we can all come to a unanimous agreement that we appreciate the beauty of this industry that speaks a thousand words. In light of our Crunch of the Month feature, Sheryl Ng is here to share her words of wisdom about her best area of expertise: portraiture photography. If you find yourself being more interested in taking pictures of other people instead of overusing your front camera, you’ll want to keep reading because this might just kick start your journey!
1) Having a clear concept and theme
It’s better to have at least something planned instead of just winging it. It’s okay to wing it sometimes, but when you know what you want, photos tend to turn out better because you have a proper direction. This also applies to life in general, but we’ll talk about that another day. For example, decide whether you want something on the happier side, or maybe a slightly moodier feel. In this case, let’s go for moody. You can even do some research online and find inspiration so you don’t get confused during your own shoot.
2) Picking the right setting
Now that you’ve established that you want a moody feel to your photos, choose a location that depicts this well. You can shoot at places like an abandoned house, an empty room, or a rundown rooftop to emphasize and depict your concept. If you’re feeling a little more creative, you can even go for the total opposite, like funfairs and playgrounds, to create a story behind your photos. Maybe your subject feels alone even in the happiest of places? Always think out of the box!
3) Choosing the right model and outfit
Pick a model who has a neutral or sad look, someone who suits your theme. What I like to do before asking a model is to go through their Instagram or Facebook (tagged photos are best) to see how they look like in candid photos. I also check what kind of stuff they often wear to see if they have something they can already wear for the shoot. This is good because you or the model don’t need to go through the trouble to borrow or buy an outfit.
I prefer picking ones with some experience or are more happy-go-lucky just to help the shoot flow better. If you are too afraid to approach a model or agency, get your closest, most photogenic friend to be your volunteer. That’s how I first started!
What’s worse than bad lighting in photos? Nothing. I think lighting is crucial because it can literally make or break your photos. Everything could be perfect – concept, setting, model, outfit – but if the photo isn’t brought together with the right lighting, it just looks like a big fat fail. Lighting really pulls together everything and helps you get that one single shot that looks just about perfect.
5) Last but not least, editing
Some photographers have amazing cameras that take beautiful photos in HD quality with barely any editing needed. Lucky them. I personally only use a point-and-shoot camera when I first started out, and till today own just 2 beginner DSLR cameras because they are the most affordable (but still left a big hole in my bank account). How I counter this is by editing. My photos never look as nice without me patching, healing, filtering and so on.
It’s difficult to put editing into words as it is a very visual process, but my advice is to watch as many tutorials as you can by more experienced photographers. You’ll start to know what works best on what photos. I use Adobe Photoshop and VSCO to edit my photos, be it for my personal or professional portraiture work.
Love these photographs? You’ll love Sheryl’s feeds! Be sure to check out her profiles for more inspiration to put your own camera to good use (even if it’s just your phone’s).