Introduction: Capture a Perfect Portrait

Ever been with friends or family and wanted to capture the moment in a perfect way? Or ever seen the perfect picture of someone online and thought "wow I would love to be able to take a photo like that"? This is a guide on how to take a professional-looking picture. Whether using a professional camera, a digital camera, or even a phone, these instructions will work with any picture-taking device.

Step 1: Background

Before we get started, make sure to have a solid background or setting. This can be in a park, at a beach, in a backyard, or even standing in front of a wall. If the background is "busy" then it will be harder to focus on the subject itself which is the person in which the photo is being taken. By "busy" that includes, a lot of objects in the frame, things that are moving, or even too many colors. A solid background could be standing in front of a tree or in a door frame. Depending on the setting, find somewhere subtle and calm.

Step 2: Setting Up the Frame

After the background setting is found, set up the frame. This consists of, well, framing. Find exactly how you want the picture to be set up. Let's say it’s a sunset photo, then sitting on a beach so the sunset is reflecting off the water is in the background. Wanting a tree in the frame could consist of sitting in front of it, next to it, or even behind it. The frame is key to the picture which brings us to our next step which is positioning.

Step 3: Posing

When thinking about positioning, think of how the person wants to pose. On a beach, with a sunset, they may want to sit right in the middle of the frame or if there is a tree in the picture, lean on the tree or sit underneath it. Always try to find something natural, if someone is looking unnatural or uncomfortable then it’s not going to make for a very good photo. Now that the position is found and how the model's position is found, think about how the photographer should position.

Step 4: Camera Angle

Going back to the beach photo, if someone is standing on a beach but wants the sunset in the picture, the best position to take the picture would be sitting down and pointing the camera up. If someone is leaning against a tree then the best position would be off to the side a little, so the person isn’t front and center, but off the point of view just a little. Holding the camera vertically or horizontally makes a big difference as well. Holding the camera vertically makes for a “narrower” picture where the model is going to take up almost the whole frame. In contrast, holding the camera horizontally makes for the model and all of the background to be in the picture as well. Depending on what type of style, figure out if horizontal or vertical would be best.

Step 5: Focus

Lastly, make sure the model is in focus. Don’t make the mistake of having something in the background in focus but having the model blurry. Whatever the focus point is, the rest will be blurry. When one model is in focus, everything else will be blurry, or unfocused which makes the model the focus point. At this point make sure the lighting is acceptable as well. If the sun is in the wrong place it may not be able to see the model or if it’s too dark, it may be hard to get a picture. Make sure the lighting hits the models face just right and benefits the picture instead of wronging it. This makes for a great portrait, even an almost professional portrait.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Taking the moment step by step just leaves capturing the photo and there it is a perfect portrait. These steps will work for any situation and any setting. Find the background, set up the frame, pick the position of the model and the photographer, fix the lighting and camera position, and press the button.