In the process of time, portrait and wedding photography has changed from the traditional approaches of formal portraiture to the less formal. The appeal of more relaxed and the natural poses are more personal and reflective of who the portrait is really about.
The movement of more casual styles may have been influenced by the current fashion photography that emphasizes untraditional poses. Fashion photography emphasizes details through techniques in lighting instead of using rigid poses. Also the digital camera has provided a high level of flexibility with nearly unlimited frames where the right shot doesn’t have to be created, but rather just captured.
The modern day photographer doesn’t have to be in a studio, in fact most people today don’t want their picture taken in a studio. A natural and relaxed photo can be achieved anywhere.
Post processing has lead to this movement in the fact that pictures that aren’t perfect can be made perfect. Natural poses will yield unexpected results. The best picture may be one where there is a tree branch in the way, or a stop sign in the back ground, or maybe even a little bit of bad posture. All of this can be fixed in post production software. Even some free software can be used to make such corrections. And of course the all popular Photoshop seems to be the all in one tool for post production.
Does that mean the traditional way of photography is dead? Well quite the contrary. Traditional poses have been around since the beginning of time with paintings and certainly continue today in modern photography. The concept is not as popular but the possibilities have been enhanced ten fold with modern day technology. Posed shots have shifted from the “glamour” shot of yesterday into dramatic enhanced effects of background and lighting to reveal fairy tale like effects that can seem almost magical. The possibilities are endless with today’s post processing techniques.
The wonderful thing about photography today is it doesn’t need sophisticated studio equipment or a huge investment. A good digital camera is very affordable and there are simple ways with a natural lighting, couple of lighting sources, and a decent post production software to make incredible and professional portraits.
No matter what equipment you use, what techniques you are interested in, the essential goal remains about portrait photography: To idealize the subject. The best pictures portray information about a person’s self. This can’t be achieved with words and must be achieved by the pose, the lighting, and the surrounding elements in the picture. The best way to do this is to make sure you know your subject before you take pictures of them. Then begin taking snap shots. The beauty of digital cameras is that you can see your results right away to see if you are taking pictures that are capturing the personality of your subject.
Now that you know it is important to capture your subject’s “self”, you must also know that it is your job to make your subject look good. There are a few ways you can bring out the best in a subject, but the easiest way is to make sure you have a good lens. For portrait photography with 35mm format try using a 80mm lens. For medium format try using a lense between 100-120mm. The longer lenses will have a slight pinching effect that will make your subject appear slightly thinner.
With the movement in modern day photography there are opportunities for all types of photographers and the possibilities are endless. We are only seeing the beginning of the digital age and there is more to come in the near future.