Hannah Chan is a Singapore based photographer who has a passion for portrait photography. She first embarked on her photography journey in 2011 and has been a freelance photographer ever since. In this article, Hannah shares with us the five key things to keep in mind when capturing portraiture on your next shoot.

1. Plan a Moodboard

Before you even start shooting, you need to have a plan. I like to sit down, draft out some ideas and put everything together in a mood board. Include every single detail – the concept of your shoot, the location, the outfits, makeup, photo references. The more you include, the better. This is not only for your personal reference but also for the others involved such as the models, hairstylists and make-up artists. You can also get things done more efficiently when everyone is aligned. Don’t go into your shoot unprepared especially if it is commercial work. It’s not professional to have your team wait while you think of what to do next! This will really get your creative juices flowing and make the whole process much more efficient.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/2.8 | ISO 100 | 1/2500s |  Canon EF50mm F/1.8 STM

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/1.4 | ISO 200 | 1/250s | Canon EF50mm F/1.4 USM

2. Connect with your model

The best gear doesn’t guarantee you the best images if your model does not feel comfortable or at ease. There needs to be a bond between the photographer and the model. Therefore, it’s your job to make sure that they do not feel tense or awkward when posing. Your model isn’t always going to be an experienced professional, so being photographed might be unnatural for them. Silences can lead to awkwardness. Make them feel comfortable by talking them through the process and guide them along the way. Prepare yourself by researching poses to make the photography experience stress-free and enjoyable.

Canon EOS 650D | f/2.8 | ISO 10 | 1/200s | Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/2.8 | ISO 100 |1/640s | Canon EF50mm F/1.8 STM

3. Always be on the move

When shooting, you need to move constantly. Do not be afraid to use the space around you. Try to cover as much ground as you can. Make sure that you get many different angles and that you are not just taking five shots in the same spot. Sometimes the best shots are unplanned and you’ll be surprised by the added dynamism in your image when you experiment around. Besides moving around, try to get a range in your shots. Aim to always cover three ranges: wide shots, mid-length shots, and close-ups.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/1.8 | ISO 400 |1/4000s | Canon EF50mm F/1.8 STM

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/2.2 | ISO 100 | 1/400s | Canon EF50mm F/1.8 STM

4. Composition: Mise-en-scene

Framing and composition are very important. This is what gives your photo depth, meaning, or tell a story. In a film, mise-en-scene refers to the setting of frame or surrounding environment to add creative value. Set the background or add a story to your image with the items in the background. Besides adding to the aesthetic, you can visually convey what you want your portrait to say.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/1.8 | ISO 250 | 1/4000s |Canon EF50mm F/1.8 STM

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/2.2 | ISO 1600 | 1/125s | Canon EF50mm F/1.8 STM

5. Working with lighting

Lighting is key! Soft natural light is your best friend, especially if you’re a beginner at portraits. Most photographers would either shoot early in the morning or late in the evening for the golden hour. This is when the light is the most optimal for shooting portraits. Avoid shooting in the afternoon when the sun is directly above your head. It will cast very harsh shadows on your model making it very hard to work with.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/1.8 | ISO 200 | 1/1600s | Canon EF50mm F/1.8 STM

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/1.8 | ISO 100 | 1/1250s | Canon EF50mm F/1.8 STM

For more of Hannah’s shots and inspiration on capturing stunning portraiture, check out her Instagram here!




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