As I take more portraits, there are number of things that are standing out as important for a good portrait shot:
1. Model has to wear something that stands out – wearing bright colors helps. A different type of attire (eg: saree or pretty jewellery) can also add that zing to an otherwise bland shot.
2. Model has to feel comfortable to give natural poses – I almost think it helps a lot if you have another person with you whose sole job is to engage the model and put him/her at ease. Posed shots rarely look good, unless you’re shooting a professional model. Going for a short coffee before the shoot to put him/her at ease with you is a great idea.
3. Shoot early in the morning or at sunset – The light is beautiful and gentle at this time and adds a lot to the overall shot. 10am onwards, it starts getting harsh, more overhead, and creates unnecessary shadows.
4. Have a theme in mind for each photo – each photograph should tell a story. Having some pre-decided themes before the shoot goes a long way in getting interesting frames during the shoot. It’s great if you can keep these themes in sync with the model’s personality. Think lots of flower shots for someone very feminine, and a more edgy shoot for someone more tomboyish.
5. Try a lot of different angles – I usually go through a number of samples online before a shoot to get new ideas. There are so many angles from where you can shoot a person – up, down, sideways, front, close-up, far off, etc etc etc. Try all of them!
Here are the photographs of my friend Nidhi Srivastava, whom I photographed just a few days back: