07 May 2013

Photo Tip No 4 - The Imperfect Portrait

Producing the 'Perfect' portrait - a pin-sharp, exquisitely-lit, head and shoulders portrait may delight the subject and elicit favourable comments by others; but its unlikely to win a major portrait competition.

Why you ask? If its so good, why won't it win? The answer is simple - because so many photographers produce similar images. Its just a bit too conventional, a bit too easy. If your portrait is similar to another 300 images it is likely to struggle to be in the top ten percent.

Whatever you like to call it - 'left-field' portraits or thinking outside the box, to be truly competitive, you need some inspiration as well as perspiration. Here are three ideas:

    Remembrance Day Service Hellfire Pass Thailand 2009. APPA and WAPPA silver award winner

  • Place your subject in an environment that tells us about the person
  • Avoid the over-controlled pose - look for spontaneity
  • If possible, tug at the heart strings
Technical excellence alone is not the answer;  neither is purchasing a $10,000 camera. I know professional photographers who have won the top professional awards in Australia using point and shoot compacts and a pin-hole camera made from a Sunshine milk tin! 

Saturating yourself with your subject and your surrounds and lighting to suit your subject will give you a head-start. Add an ounce of emotion - and you are on your way.


You could book for Shoot's 'Portraits that Win Awards' seminar on Sat 8 June 10am-12noon. ($49)

  • Portraits that send judges to sleep
  • The Emotional image
  • The Narrative print
  • Is there such a  thing as the 'perfect' portrait lens?
  • Black and White or Colour?
Tel Dana on 9228-8232 or email  enquiries@shootworkshops.com.au.


Enter the 2013 Fremantle International Portrait Prize for your chance to win $5000 cash, a Nikon D800 or an Apple mini-iPad www.fremantleportraitprize.org.au

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