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August 6, 2014

Photographers’ secrets: The ultimate guide to taking portraits

In certain cultures photographs are considered to steal the subject’s soul.

I’d like to believe in that as the very best portraits truly seem to capture something essential about the person and definitely more than what meets the eye. And that’s actually one of the first things we all should remember when taking portraits: more than just controlling the light as we usually do, we’re also controlling the way we portray a fellow human being.

In the world full of selfies – and most recently belfies too – real portraits are still hard to find. Only a fraction of hobbyist photos seem to fall in to portrait category as most of the snaps are some sort of landscapes or cityscapes. Nothing wrong with that, but besides those I must’ve seen more photos of ants and bees than of people! Maybe most of us still consider portraits to be something only professionals do or we tend to think that to stand out from the sea of portaits we need supermodels or eccentric personalities, extensive light setups and lot’s of other props. Obviously that’s not true. And to show you that we once again turned to the Nothing But a Nokia community in search of perfect examples and useful little tips on how to take stunning portraits. So grab your Lumia and read on.

1. ”Don’t make your subject pose for you – the more natural they are, the more soulful your photograph looks.” – Muthu Krishnan


2. ”My focus when taking portraits is to tell a story.” – Palash Mitra

3. ”Get to know the people you are photographing so they are familiar and relaxed with you.” – Toni Pavlis


4. ”Get in touch with the people and create a friendly atmosphere.” – Do Hong An

5. “It’s easiest to practice with friends or family to make both you and your model feel relaxed and comfortable.” – Anthony Hunter


6. ”Getting close makes a big difference when it comes to capturing a feeling in a special moment. ” – Hannele Sjöqvist

7. ”Observe, predict the actions and catch the moment.” – Do Hong An

8. ”I try to focus on the subjects’ eyes and fill the frame by cropping or blurring out the non-essential parts.” – Palash Mitra


9. ”It’s difficult to show the emotion and capture it at the right time. You have to think about how to make the photo look natural and the model comfortable.” – Trinh Ngoc Minh


10. ”There’s a rule that when photographing kids you should get down low on their level.” –Toni Pavlis

11. ”Don’t be afraid of trying new things. Different apps, angles, colours and environments can give your photo a whole new dimension.” – Anthony Hunter


12. ”At times the background adds to the story. Looser framing allows me to portray the relationship between the background and the subject.” – Palash Mitra

13. ”Finding the balance between the subject and the environment is also important. Make sure that your subject doesn’t get lost to the background!” – Hannele Sjöqvist


14. ”I prefer light falling in from only one side on the subject and let the other side be dark.” – Muthu Krishnan

15. ”Post processing always helps to improve your shot. Windows Phone apps I use to edit my B&W portraits are Nokia Creative Studio, Fotor, and Fhotoroom.” – Muthu Krishnan

16. ”Having a bit of luck helps!” – Do Hong An


There’s certainly been a massive increase in the amount of striking black and white photos in the NBAN pool after we posted our ultimate guide to black and white photography – and that’s very impressive from all of you! Majority of the NBAN users also seem to agree that you can’t really go wrong with b&w when it comes to portraits and that’s without a doubt true! Though having a lot of contrast looks good on black and white shots, harsh shadows on your subjects face caused by direct sunlight hardly ever look good.

So try to shoot portraits on overcast days or when the light is softer. Another thing worth to bear in mind is that our Lumias have a wide-angle lens, which isn’t traditionally a weapon of choice for portrait shooters. Though I usually suggest getting close with wide-angles for the wow factor and powerful images, the slight distortion doesn’t always flatter your subjects features. Keep that in mind especially when your significant other is posing for you!

Now, get out with your Lumia, try these tips and fill your device with stunning portraits. After all, having plenty of shots to choose from is the clear number one tip! After that, we’d love to see your work and read your own advice in the comments below.