Combine your smartphone camera with the essential fundamentals of portrait photography and you can capture someone’s expression, personality, and mood—one beautiful image after another. This week, renowned commercial photographer and iPhone camera aficionado Trevor Paulhus pitches in to offer his expert advice. Here are five fundamental lessons to get you well on your way to taking great portraits with your smartphone camera.
One of the most challenging aspects of portrait photography is making the subject comfortable so they can feel natural and be themselves. Even if the person knows you well, they may not be at ease in front of the camera. Of course, with the number of smartphone users worldwide set to surpass two billion people in 2016, it makes sense that we’re getting more and more used to having our photos taken. It’s a more comfortable experience than a traditional camera photo shoot, but there are still barriers to cross.
“Getting a subject to be comfortable in front of you is definitely one of the biggest challenges of a portrait photographer,” Trevor says. “Not only do you need to find a way to have them relax so you can capture a genuine moment with them, but you also need to get them to trust you—trust that you will, for lack of a better phrase, ‘make them look good.’ This is where the personality of the photographer comes into play.” The more natural and confident you appear, the more your subject will be inclined to relax and be themselves in front of your camera. A good portrait photographer should be both personable and approachable to eliminate any anxiety the subject may have about being photographed.
“Be communicative and be patient with them,” Trevor continues. “But also be very confident and focused so they know that you know exactly what you want. To me, taking a good portrait is about sharing a moment of personal connection with someone. Whether it’s a contrived situation or not, that moment needs to be found. And really, just be nice.”