1. Have you seen this picture before?
Or something very similar? What can you do to make your picture different from the ones you have seen before?
2. It is all in the details.
Is there anything that mess upp the photo? Take it away, do not just let it stay in your photo. Is there anything you can add to make it more unique? There is a reason I often add in some flowers when taking portrait pictures!
3. ALWAYS shoot on manual settings if you are using a DSLR camera.
Everything else is a waste of a great camera. The basics that you need to know if you are shooting on manual settings are exposure , aperture and ISO, which actually is not that hard to learn. YouTube is of great help here, just like always when it comes to photography.
4. Shoot the image too dark rather than too bright.
If the whites in the picture are missing details , the picture is way to bright. It is better to shoot the picture a tad bit too dark because it is always easier to brighten up rather than darken the picture when editing it.
5. Aperture settings to use.
A beginner's advice is to always shoot with a wide aperture (a lower number) when you are shooting portraits and does not want to have the background in focus and a narrow aperture (a higher number) when shooting landscapes or a picture that you want to have a lot of things in focus. Although, I always use 1.4 no matter what I shoot which gets me a lot of complaints from my teachers, oops - well well.
6. Keep the eyes in focus.
The absolutely most important thing when it comes to portraits is to keep the eyes in focus, if they are not the portrait is often useless.
7. Keep an eye on your horizons.
IT IS NEVER OKAY TO HAVE SLANTING HORIZONS. Not even if you shoot portraits and are not focusing on the background. All it says is that you are a beginner and have not been taught properly, oops.
8. Do not have too much space over your model's head.
This is something that I always have to think about because I love having a lot of space over my model's head - but no, the model should take up as much of the frame as possible or at least being positioned in the middle of it (at least that is what my professors at the university say).
9. Never cut off the head of the model.
This is something that also screams "beginner", plus it gives a pretty weird picture.
10. Too much editing is usually just that - too much.
I have had periods where I have edited my pictures waaaay to much. You usually get the best results by just tweaking the picture a little bit.
11. Do not use backgrounds that are too messy.
A simple background is usually better in the long run. If you look at my pictures I practically never use a background that includes a lot of details. They are all pretty simple and "clean".
12. You can place the object in the middle.
People always go on and on about the rule of thirds and yes, a lot of the time I use that rule as well, but of course you can compose your picture the way you think suits it. Everything else is just stupid rules that some uncreative people have made up (according to me hihi).
13. Portraits = prime lenses (no zoom)
When you are shooting a portrait it is always better to use a lens without a zoom. They often have a better sharpness and aperture to them. In addition to that it is a great practice for you to move around, try different angles, move closer and further back rather than just standing at the same spot the whole time using only the zoom feature.
14. Have something in the foreground to give more depth to the photo.
If you have something in the foreground that is not in focus it will often give the photo more depth. Have a look at the fourth photo in this article for example!
15. Remember not to cut body parts off at weird places.
You either have the whole hand or non at all. It is never okay to cut off a toe or a finger because it never looks good.
16. Focus on the shadows on the face.
Weird shadows often make the model look tired and older. Try to get as much light on the face as you possibly can without giving it weird shadows. A reflexive screen is a great way to do it, but if you are lazy like me it often works to just turn the model around until the light is right, keep close to a window and avoid shooting in backlight. I hate backlight, oops.
17. Cloudy weather for portraits.
A cloudy day is the best weather for a portrait photographer.
18. Avoid fake laughing and smiling.
Photos of models fake laughing or fake smiling towards the camera often just looks fake, so try to avoid it. Let them have their natural facial expression when they are looking into the camera. If they happen to laugh - great - at least then it is not fake.
19. Use inspiration from others but do not copy them.
I often put together a "moodboard" with about nine photos from different photographers before a photoshoot of my own. That will give me a clear idea when I am shooting, but do not copy the entire photo. It is always great to be inspired by others, but do not steal other people's photos. Why shoot a picture that already exists?
20. Have fun!
I take photos because it makes me happy and I love doing it. If you shoot for any other reason it is probably not worth it.