Ladies in Red: Portrait Shots with Huawei P10

It is true that the right camera or equipment can make a huge a difference in capturing a great portrait shot. However, that just makes half of the equation. The other vital half of the equation lies on the skill of the photographer itself.

This means that with the right technique, you can take stunning shots as if it were taken by expensive DSLRs but by only using your smartphone.

Master these 4 essentials in portrait photography to capture remarkable shots with your smartphone.

Subject

The subject needs to be comfortable for a shot to look natural and genuine. This is one of the most challenging aspects of portrait photography. Even if the subject knows you well, being in front of a camera can erase that familiarity. You need to find a way to let your subject relax so you can take a natural shot.

A great way to do this is to establish a relationship. Before going to the shoot, take time to get to know your subject a bit. You will find that a short chat can help them feel more at ease and comfortable with you.

And do not just stop there. During the shoot, continue having a conservation. This will help create a more authentic moment for you to capture.

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Location

The setting is as important as the subject when it comes to a portrait shot. Where and when you take the shot can help build up the character of a photo. The right setting can redirect the focus of the viewer to the subject while enhancing the overall scene.

It is therefore, extremely important to know what you want your photo to look like and what to convey. Look into different locations and do your research. Visualize the potential composition of each frame. Think ahead so you can be more effective and confident in directing the subject during the shoot.

For this shoot, I have scouted three (3) locations and the Bagacay Lighthouse in Liloan catches the attention of my groupmates. It’s been a while also since I had a photo session here so it really felt brand new.

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Lighting

A vital aspect in portrait photography is lighting. What mood are you trying to get? The right lighting can help you achieve that. Since you are doing mobile photography, you do not need to learn lighting techniques which are essential in studio portraits. You only need to learn the basics about natural lighting and how it affects your shot.

If there is one thing to remember – it is that you need to avoid taking portraits with harsh light. How can you identify harsh light? A great technique is to look at the shadow of the people passing by the area. If the shadows projected are too sharp or strongly outlined then you may not be able to get good natural lighting.

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One of the main aspect in portrait photography is soft light. This is the most ideal lighting to achieve beautiful portraits. What are your options? You can either take photos during overcast days. When it is too bright outside, take shots under buildings or structures that block direct light. Or you can wait for the day to end and take photos during the sunset which will give you the softest possible light.

Since this was a mobile portrait session, I did not bring any lighting equipment instead I brought with me a gold and silver reflector. Reflectors are a great help if you are doing outdoor session especially in the absence of lighting setup. It was late in the afternoon and the reflector was really handy.

Capturing

When your subject, setting, and lighting is ready – it is time to capture shots.

How far should you stand from your subject? A rule of thumb is to strand an arm’s length from the subject and to keep your smartphone’s lens at either eye level or a little lower than eye level whichever works best.

Make sure to click focus on the face especially on the eyes. As the saying goes, the eyes are the windows to the soul.

We never had dull moments on this session since both of our models are really good and knows how to handle themselves in front of the camera.

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Keep these factors in mind when taking portraits and soon you will be doing photography like a real pro!

And to wrap things off, here are some of the portraits taken with my Huawei P10 smartphone. It’s open for criticism, please be my guest.

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Herbert Kikoy
I am a hobbyist photographer who's making a big shift to mobile photography, a frustrated cook and a wanderlust who don't have the luxury of time.