Use Composition to Create Better Photography Portraits // Photography How-To

When it comes to photography there is more to it than just releasing the shutter. You have to learn how to use the elements around you to create a more interesting and more compelling portrait. 

In this photography tutorial, I will cover how to use composition to make your fashion, beauty, and other types of photography more interesting by framing your subject in various ways. 

I think you can really see the difference in someone just learning photography and someone who is more advanced. The more advanced photographer sees what the camera sees. They are able to use elements in the frame to drive the viewers attention throughout the frame and control what they are looking at. There is definitely an art to this.

Equipment Used:

Team:

Photographer: Sal Cincotta
Model: Faren
Hair & Makeup: Brandi Patton, ReFine Beauty

Today we're going to talk about photography composition tips to create better portraits.

 What’s up, everyone? My name is Sal Cincotta, and today we are going to talk about using geometrical elements in your portrait photography to create more interesting portraits.

Today I am here with Faron, who is looking beautiful. We’ve got three different areas here that we’re going to use. We’ve got triangles, circles, and horizontal lines. As a photographer, when you’re doing portraits it’s really easy to get caught up in just your subject, which is beautiful sometimes. Obviously this outfit, the hair, the makeup, everything’s on point, but how do we make it more interesting? We’re going to use those geometrical shapes to create three different and very interesting portraits. Let’s get to it.

#1 Triangle

What we’re doing is just firing that light into the ceiling to give you that look. Then, the real killer of it will be when I come in real tight. Yeah, that’s beautiful.

USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/2.8 @ 1/200, ISO 200
USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/2.8 @ 1/200, ISO 200
USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/2.8 @ 1/200, ISO 200
USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/2.8 @ 1/200, ISO 200

All right, so that’s scene number one. We got that perfect frame up. We’re using flash and firing it into the ceiling to soften it.

#2 Circle

 Next up, scene number two, geometrical shape circle. We’re going to go back into the other part of the room here and use the circle mirror to frame her up there. I will probably use some color gels, nanlites, but let’s go see what we’ve got.

I’m going to have Faren over here and I want to frame her up in that mirror. I like that a lot. Let’s get all the distracting elements out of the background. With these nanlites, what I like is they’re RGB lights. You can change the color. You can get them exact based on the RGB color scale. That’s kind of really cool with that green. Let’s do it.

USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/2 @ 1/15, ISO 800
USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/2 @ 1/15, ISO 800

Don’t get too hung up on the lighting. The lighting obviously is really cool in this environment. I can’t recommend the nanlites more than I already do. We use them in our photo shoots. I’m able to easily add color and change the environment. But, what you should be noticing is that I’m using that mirror. I’m choosing an angle that’s low and I’m using that gold mirror to frame her up as a geometrical element. It just makes the portrait more interesting. Obviously I could have put her against the brick wall, or I could have shot down the long hallway. But, as a photographer, we’ve got to look for creative ways to create some more impactful images. These are looking absolutely killer, so let’s keep going with this

USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/2 @ 1/40, ISO 1600
USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/2 @ 1/25, ISO 1600
USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/2 @ 1/13, ISO 800
USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/2 @ 1/25, ISO 1600
USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/2 @ 1/25, ISO 1600

#3 Horizontal Lines

All right, so this one’s a little bit more difficult of a shot. I’m being ambitious here with the way I want to do this. I’m seeing these horizontal lines here, but what I don’t want is any reflective light hitting this. So I’m going to close the curtains down behind the camera there. Then I’m going to use a single light, an FJ200 strobe with a grid on it to just illuminate her. Then I want some kind of shadows being created by these horizontal lines or leading lines into her. I haven’t had a chance to set this up. I have no idea if I’m going to struggle with it, but it’s something that as you’re working you should be looking for ways to challenge yourself as a photographer and do things that are a little bit different. This is that shot. Let’s set it up. That looks killer, and now she’s got purple shadows. Let’s work.  I like more angles out of Faron. More asymmetrical, I should say.

USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/2 @ 1/80, ISO 800
USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/5.6 @ 1/200, ISO 200
USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/5.6 @ 1/200, ISO 200
USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/5.6 @ 1/200, ISO 200
USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/5.6 @ 1/200, ISO 200
USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/5.6 @ 1/200, ISO 200
USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/5.6 @ 1/200, ISO 200
USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/8 @ 1/200, ISO 200
USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/6.3 @ 1/200, ISO 200
USE COMPOSITION TO CREATE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS // PHOTOGRAPHY HOW-TO
Settings: f/6.3 @ 1/200, ISO 200

How much fun was that? Just goes to show you if you want to step up your game, look for leading lines and elements that will make your imagery and your photography stand out.

That was a lot of fun. I don’t know which one was your favorite. Let us know down below in the comments, which one stood out to you. The circle mirror, that really did stand out for me, but we got some killer shots firing that light through the shelving and creating those horizontal lines. We’ll see you in the next video.

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