6 ways to make better photographic portraits

Photos are an important element of any story you tell about a person. An expressive photograph of a person captures a key part of his or her personality. Here are some ways to get genuine, authentic images with journalistic excellence.

  • Do some reporting so you know something about your subject. Feel free to ask questions such as "Where are you most comfortable?" and "Where do you spend most of your time?"
  • Connect with the person you are photographing to make a better portrait. Approach sources with the desire to help them relax and be natural during your time together.
  • Make your photographic compositions deliberate. Compose in the camera, remembering that all items in the viewfinder are relevant.
  • If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough. Zoom with your feet, not your lens.
  • Document three images for each moment you capture. That will make it more likely that you will get a good, usable photograph.
  • Backgrounds should be an asset, not a distraction. Avoid having your source too close to a reflective surface, bright window, light source or complex pattern unless it is important to the message of the portrait.

Taken from 100 Ideas to Make Your Journalism Better, a webinar replay at Poynter NewsU.

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    Vicki Krueger

    Vicki Krueger has worked with The Poynter Institute for more than 20 years in roles from editor to director of interactive learning and her current position as marketing communications manager.


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