Expert Level Portrait Tips Series Part 02: Styling

Portrait photography is infinite. Its wide range of possibilities seems endless when compared to that of landscape or lifestyle photography.

Expert Level Portrait Tips Series Part 02: Styling
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Expert Level Portrait Tips Series

Styling Your Images

Greetings and welcome to Moment’s first ever article series debut. Featuring expert-level tips on creating stunning mobile portraiture (though, these rules can apply to any camera), we’ll dive deep on the ins and outs of what it means to capture a profile worth remembering. Through measures of unique posing, lighting, location ideas, and creative outlets for composition — we’ll dissect every detail it takes to compartmentalize the very component behind what makes excellent mobile photography. Let’s roll.

Make Your Photos POP With Styling Techniques

Portrait photography is infinite. Its wide range of possibilities seems endless when compared to that of landscape or lifestyle photography. Shooting portraits doesn’t just mean you shoot straight-on images of people smiling (though it can), but rather — you’re using the human subject as a prop of interest. You can create around them, with them, through them. Expert-level portraits photographers produce compelling stories by merely styling the human body from a fresh perspective. By establishing a color palette, showcasing the details of specific patterns and textiles, and using props as a way to add dynamic range — you can create one helluva picture.

Let’s dive in.

Hiding the face with hats.

Style is on point.

Establishing a Color Palette

Styling a unified aesthetic means first establishing a strong color palette. Do you want it to be warm or cold? Dark or light? Neutral or poppy? These are the questions you must ask yourself to effectively start your base. After these initial thoughts, begin by choosing 3-5 colors that you want as a dominant force. They can be as monochromatic or colorful as you wish, so long as you are confident about what it is you want.

As strange as the combination might seem, I wanted to harbor greens, yellows, and pinks into one frame. From the above images, you can see my subject, Melvin, wearing a green shirt with yellow shorts placed against a pink apartment building. With a robust and well-established color palette, you can create a well-adapted visual experience.

Yellow hat, green jacket.

Greens, yellows, and pinks.

Patterns

Similarly, clothing patterns evoke a wide range of feelings depending on what kind you’re implementing in your shot. Stripes and repetition feel bold, whereas floral shirts seem fun and quirky. For this shoot, in particular, I was keenly interested in developing a style that somewhat resembled Tyler the Creator’s “Flower Boy” album character. I wanted to have lots of colorful patterns shine through the image that evoked a sense of unique playfulness. Judging by my models' poses, you can tell how much fun we were having, too.

Say whaaaa-?

Shot on the Moment Wide.

Sunglasses and Hats

C’mon —sunglasses and hats are a given. A portrait is instantly better when your model is posing with extra accessories as it adds a layer of exciting dimension — plus, they look darn good! Have your model wear a bucket hat, a sun hat, bright green sunglasses, or maybe even aviators (are those still in?). Play with them. Sway back and forth with their hand on their hat or perhaps have them peak their eyes through their glasses like they just saw a ghost. Do whatever it is you want to do, make put them in there.

Sunglasses make everything instantly better.

Looking off into the distance.

Props

A highly effective yet simple way to add some spice to your mobile photography is to use props in your scene. If your portrait photos are starting to feel bland, add in a Topo Chico sparkling water bottle or a mirror. Adding accessories will make all of the difference. You can create amazing images from next to nothing, whether you’re shooting in your backyard or thousands of miles away. You decide how you’d like to compose the prop within your image, as this kind of freedom introduces an entire level of new angles and perspectives. More importantly, it’s a great way to tap into your creative side!

What's going on there?

Read Parts 01, 03, 04, 05.

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