Three quick tips for shooting better portraits, and creating photos with more impact:
(Some of this post is a review of earlier tips, but it never hurts to hear a suggestion more than once.)
First, keep the rule of thirds in mind and focus on the subject’s eye. You definitely want a person’s eye, or eyes, to be the sharpest aspect of your portrait photo. Place the head and whenever possible, the subject’s eye, at one of the four key intersection points. At the very least, ensure the eyes are on the top third division line or the bottom third division line. Here’s an example:
Rule of Thirds - Focus on the eye
Second, shoot from eye level. If you are shooting children, get down low and shoot at their eye level. Adjust your tripod, stance or camera position to shoot at eye level. Large groups always look better when shot from above, and in some special circumstances you may want to shoot up at a subject, but for the great majority of us in the great majority of situations, you will be served well by placing your camera at the subject’s eye level.
Rule of Thirds - Focus on the eye - Shoot at eye level
Third, don’t cut off the joints! This is just a good general rule. If you are going to crop a photo to show less than a whole person, ensure you DO NOT crop at joints (i.e. neck, waist, hip, elbow, wrist, knee, ankle). Another way to say this…crop between joints.
Rule of Thirds - Focus on eye - Crop between joints - (PSW12 Westcott Shootout)
Note that the model above is cropped below the waist and elbow, but above the knee and wrist.
Hope these tips help, and as always, please send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org