How you compose and frame your portrait is important for creating visual impact and connection with the viewer. It can dictate the mood and feel of the portrait, making it feel inviting or uncomfortable.
Knowing a few rules, and how to break them effectively is a good place to start. In this article I’m going to give you some general rules you can follow to help improve your portraits through better composition.
General Portrait Composition Tips
#1 – Get closer!
In general beginning photographers tend to include too much stuff in their images, too much space around the subject. The same is true for portraits. In my classroom when I teach this topic I often see people with a 50mm lens standing too far away from their model, leaving the person small in the frame. Fear of encroaching on someone’s personal space can come into play.
So if that sounds like you, then you may want to invest in a longer lens, which are better for portraits anyway as they are more flattering to the subject. Look at the two examples below. The first was shot with a 50mm lens (on a full frame camera) and the second closer one was with a zoom lens set at 120mm.
Notice how much more impact the closer portrait has? In which image do you feel more drawn to and connected with the model?