“David, my boyfriend is the worst photographer.”
“David, why does my girlfriend ask for photos all the time?”
Ah… the classic photographing your partner quotes I hear all the time.
Taking photos of your partner can be a touchy topic for a lot of couples – for both partners whether they’re the one taking the photo or the one getting their photo taken.
This honestly can be a course in it of itself but I broke it down into 6 easy tips for the uninitiated boyfriend (or friend, or family member, or girlfriend, or ANYONE who wants to learn how to take a good photo of someone else).
6 Easy Tips for the Uninitiated Boyfriend Summary:
- Intention. You need to have the RIGHT intention. This sets the tone and it can make or break the photo session. You need to WANT to take these photos for your girlfriend in the first place. And not only that, you have to understand that no matter how beautiful YOU think the photo is, all that matters is your girlfriend loving it or not.
- Location. Finding a location doesn’t have to be challenging. I honestly love finding simple and neutral walls and background as it helps focus on my subject.
- Lighting plays a huge role in whether or not the person will like their photo. It’s a safe bet to photograph anyone under a shade.
- Communication – need I say further? You need to understand that as much as your girlfriend wants to be photographed, she still feel under pressure and shy when she’s outside getting her photos taken. So you need to communicate and direct her!
- Posing. You probably don’t know much about posing and that’s totally okay – I don’t expect you to! BUT, you can’t just stand there and be a human tripod. Give her suggestions even if you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re showing support, love, and care.
- Angles. Use higher angles for closer shots and lower angles, tilting up for full body shots as a rule of thumb
If your heart, mind and soul isn’t into taking photos in the first place, then what’s the point? You gotta have the drive and initiative to capture what you see in front of you, into photos that both you and your loved one would appreciate!
Think of taking photos as if you’re the director, not some passive photographer who’s just there to click the camera button. As the director, you want to set an example for your subject (in this case your loved one), giving them encouragement and building the foundation for a great photoshoot.
Most of the time, when we want to take a photo of someone, we tell them, “Can you stand over there?” But that’s too simple and open-ended! Instead, you want to say, “Your outfit would look so great with this background, can you pose like this?”
Make sure you’re putting yourself into the shoes of those you’re photographing, setting up the building blocks to capturing a beautiful photo of your loved one.
After setting your intention for this photoshoot, you want to make sure that the location you’re at would compliment your subject. It doesn’t have to be anything too complicated, it can be as simple as solid colors or a neutral background. If there’s art in the background, that’s cool, but you don’t want to be photographing the art, right? You want to photograph the art that’s right in front of you (aka your loved one).
You also want to keep in mind that the location you choose depends on the lighting that surrounds your subject.
While the sun can be a good way to highlight your subject, it’s a matter of how you use that lighting. You don’t want your loved one to have harsh shadows on their face nor have them squinting in their photos! If there’s a lot of sunlight where you’re at, make sure you photograph in the shade. After all, you want to capture your loved one in their full essence, not with shadows hiding that essence.
Not only does communication come in the form of putting yourself in the shoes of your subject, but also listening to how they’re feeling. Don’t downplay your loved one’s feelings! If they say that they look awkward in a certain shot, acknowledge that feeling, then offer solutions to overcome that feeling. And by solutions, we mean guiding your subject how to pose! After all, communication and posing go hand-in-hand.
For this, you as the photographer don’t need to know how to pose to execute this communication-posing combination; you can practice giving directions or offer the smallest bit of guidance, but with CERTAINTY!
Again, this goes back to intention and being the director of your loved one’s photoshoot. Saying something as simple as “Can you bring your chin this way?” or “Let’s switch up your hands to another position!” allows your subject to not only feel guided, but supported!
- Framing / Angling
Last but not least, framing and angling are the finishing touches to your loved one’s photoshoot! Think of these final elements as three different compositions and three different angles.
For the three different compositions, they are:
- Close-up – Where the camera lens doesn’t directly center your loved one, but captures them from the corners of the lens. If you have the grid lines activated on your camera app, place your subject’s eyes on the first line of the grid as shown below.
- Medium shot – Where the camera lens shows your subject waist down and above their knees. For grid line placement, the nose is on the first line, while the waist is on the second line.
- Full body – Where the camera lens is far out from your subject, showing off their outfit. Using the grid lines, have your loved one within the last two blocks of the square, leaving the top square for the background (see below). For this composition, you as the photographer don’t need to stand in just one place, move around and have fun!
For the three different angles, they are:
- Tilt down – This works in combination with the close-up composition. For this angle, we want to make sure that we engage with the subject’s eyes! By tilting down, it makes your loved one look more inviting and friendly in their photos.
- Straight on – This is pretty self-explanatory, and works best with the medium shot composition!
- Tilt up – This is best for capturing your loved one’s outfit of the day (OOTD) and follows the full body composition! As the photographer, the way to utilize this combination is to have a far shot, do a downward squat, and tilt up your phone. Using the full body and tilt up combo adds more length to your subject’s legs!
And there you have it, the 6 SIMPLE ways to be a better photographer! I hope you feel more confident in your phototaking skills, capturing your loved ones the way you see them! The care and observation you showcase as a photographer speaks to your love and devotion towards them. Your intention to make your loved ones feel good, heard, and seen can be done with something as simple as taking their photo.