How to Take Great Close-Up Portraits

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How to Take Great Close-Up Portraits

Close-up portraits don’t have to look dull. They can be fun, creative, and thought-provoking. They can feature interesting elements, make viewers feel at home, or simply look gorgeous. But how can you take close-up photos of models and not make them feel uncomfortable? How can you take photos of details without making them look like any other photo of the same things? This is what you have to do…

close-up photo of girl

Be a Comfortable Presence

In any area of life, personal space is usually respected. In photography, this rule has the potential to break when details are involved. A strand of hair or freckles might compel you to get close to your subject, but the fear of taking up their personal space might stop you from doing so.

You don’t have to avoid close-ups because of this. There are a few things you can do to make your subject feel comfortable during a close-up portrait session:

  • Use a zoom lens
    A zoom lens will let you take close-ups of your subjects without getting too close to them. This will both make them feel secure and allow you to take great photos of details. The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S ED VR II are some of the best portrait lenses out there.
  • Get to know your clients
    Make your clients feel comfortable in their skin. Give them examples of close-ups that inspire you so that they can get a better idea of the look you’re going for. The more you share, the more comfortable they’ll feel during your photoshoot.

portrait of girl with hat

Take Advantage of Soft Foregrounds

Using foregrounds, you’ll be able to take your close-up portraits to the next level. A zoom lens will create a soft background and blur anything that stands in front of your models. This is a great opportunity to make the most of details that wouldn’t look appealing on their own. Cover a part of your lens with a vibrant object and you’ll get bright, eye-catching results that will not only complement your models’ features, but add a spark to your composition. Here are a few objects you could use:

  • Flowers, leaves, or other plants
  • Branches
  • Hands
  • Clothes (especially when movement is involved)
  • Hair

close-up portrait

Include Other Items in Your Photos

To give your photos a special touch, include your subjects’ favorite things in your photos. Yes, even a close-up portrait can feature more than just a face! Hats, makeup, or even a striking background could all tell a deeper story about your models. If you’re taking photos of children, take photos of them holding their favorite toy. This will make them feel at home and give you space to work with various elements. It will also challenge you to make the most of everything you have during a photoshoot.

portrait with lights in distance

Be Spontaneous

Remember: your models don’t have to face your camera all the time. The best close-up portraits often feature people looking in different directions. Don’t feel limited by any idea you may have of close-up portraiture; instead of creating within the limits, seek inspiration everywhere.

spontaneous picture

Another thing worth remembering is creative cropping. Don’t be afraid of cropping half of your subject’s face. If you think that a photo would look better if it were wider, smaller, or more detailed, then experiment! Chances are that the results will satisfy you and impress your client.

Be open, make the most of every detail, and don’t be afraid of adding more elements to your compositions. You’ll be able to take make your models feel comfortable and take unique close-up portraits that your clients will adore.

Happy shooting!


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How to Take Great Close-Up Portraits