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Master Your Portrait Framing

Follow The Rule Of Thirds

When we frame our portraits, nine times out of ten, we will apply the rule of thirds principle. If you don’t know what the rule of thirds is, we have outlined it in the portrait below with a red line showing you where to frame your model in the photograph.

The theory is that by framing the subject this way it creates a much more balanced photograph – making it more appealing for ones eye to view the photograph. If we had framed the model below, on the very far side (e.g. even further to the left), it would look too unbalanced. Using the rule of thirds principle is like finding the ‘sweet spot’. Having the model in the middle of the photograph would lose the lovely gradating effect that it has.

Having the subject off-centre is far more pleasing to the eye and looks much more natural than it would if the model was placed right in the middle of the frame.

The photograph below is another clear example of how we framed this portrait using the rule of thirds principle. Whether you decide to position your model on the right or the left side of the frame, make sure the model is angled/looking towards the open space in the photograph.

If you find yourself unsure of how to frame your portraits this way, keep experimenting, especially with this particular type of framing. Sometimes it helps to see what obviously doesn’t look good – to then be able to see what does look good and then correct it. Continue to play with it until you get the desired effect.

Centre Portraits

Now that we have touched based on the rules and how to follow them… We are going to show you how to break them effectively.

When it comes to taking portraits with the model in the centre of the frame, it’s really important to create enough impact, otherwise they tend to look empty or dull because the subject ends up being too much “in your face”, without any good angles to focus on.

So, when you decide to frame your model in the centre, the model needs to create definition either by striking a pose, turning their head to the side, or even just tilting their head slightly.

For example the black and white portrait below, has a lot of impact – partly because of the contrast and sunglasses… but the added interest of her strong jawline, her ponytail on the side and the pose she is holding.

You don’t have to frame centre portraits as close as this portrait, however it can make it easier because the model fills more of the frame. It’s up to you to pick the distance – if you need more posing tips and how to direct your model effectively to look good in front of the camera, check out our How To Pose For Portrait eBook.

The portrait below is a good example of what we mean by when we say the model needs to tilt their head to one side for centre portraits – because it makes it look less “head on” and adds more movement to the portrait. Imagine her head was straight – it would not look as flattering or soft.

Don’t Take Portraits With a Low Perspective

If there is one rule that we almost never break, it’s taking portraits from a low perspective – because it makes the model’s jawline almost completely disappear, even someone who has a very defined jawline will still struggle to keep it. Obviously not an ideal or attractive outcome!

On top of that, photographing the model from a low point of view, the camera ends up looking up their nose… So this type of composition is rarely considered a good choice…!

You may not be making this error to an extreme extent – but it’s easy to do it on a subtle level without realising you are. It does depend, but 99% of the time, your model will always look less attractive if you photograph them from a lower perspective.

Professional and event photographers do it all the time – you’ll see them bend down super low to get a good group shot – and everyone ends up looking less attractive than they actually are…..!

More Portrait Tips From The Bell Sisters

We couldn’t even begin to add up the hours we have spent over the years to acquire the knowledge that we have now. So to fast track the learning time for you, we have put together our unique tips and tricks into our Hot Tips For Outdoor Portraits eBook.

It’s filled with some of our best and most used techniques that we have used for countless portraits that never cease to transform our portraits.

In this eBook we share our most important portrait techniques that we use without fail, on every single one of our portraits. It will prove to be one of the most beneficial and helpful eBooks you will have ever come across – it is very much to-the-point, simply outlining our favourite techniques, so you can start improving your outdoor photography portraits skills instantly!

For more information on this ebook and how it will help you – Hot Tips For Outdoor Portraita eBook:

Download our FREE eBook: 7 Quick Tips To Take Better Photographs
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About the author

Olivia L'Estrange-Bell

Olivia L'Estrange-Bell - English, 23yrs. Entrepreneur. Digital Products. Photographs for License. Fund Raising

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