Portrait photography

10 tips for shooting street portraits: Take great street photos

Portraiture is a wonderful avenue of photography, allowing you to express yourself with poses, lighting, and location. However, this can often feel a bit overwhelming as there is so much to consider when working with a model – and you need to have good people skills, directing the models to get the shots you envision. We caught up with professional portrait photographer Jade Keshia Gordon for her advice on getting started.

• Read more: The best lenses for portrait photography

Jade Keshia Gordon is a professional Canon beauty and fashion photographer based in Peckham, London, and has been shooting portraits for over ten years. She began her career in street portraiture working with bloggers, YouTubers and influencers in the London area.

We have associated it with a reader of PhotoPlus: Canon magazineShana-Rochelle, for a masterclass in outdoor street portrait photography around London, photographing models Myers London and Tash Soodeen. Here you’ll find Jade’s top 10 portrait tips, as well as some of the images Shana-Rochelle was able to capture applying them to her own photography.

You can find out more about Jade’s work at his website.

01 Key Parameters

(Image credit: future)

To start, Jade switched to manual mode and lowered her ISO to 100 for the best image quality and opened the aperture value to f/2.8 to create some background blur. She also set a fast shutter speed of 1/2000s to get a balanced exposure, which is also fast enough to eliminate camera shake. She regularly checks her shots and adjusts her settings to make sure the photos come out properly exposed.

02 Get a “chic” fifty

(Photo credit: Canon)

A 50mm lens like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II is often referred to as a “nifty fifty”, as it is versatile with its 50mm focal length and large f/1.8 aperture making it easy to get shallow depth of shot. field. effects. They’re also very inexpensive and can often be had for around $100 (or even less when buying second-hand), making these types of lenses great value for money – and a great option. to try when you start taking portraits.

• Best 50mm lenses

03 Achieve perfect colors

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For a few of the photos taken in the shade, Jade found that some skin tones came out a little red. While this could be fixed in the editing stage with the temperature and hue sliders in Lightroom, Jade fixed it in the camera.

(Image credit: future)

Accessing the menus of her Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and entering the white balance settings, she changed the balance to make it a little bluer to correct the red cast. You should keep an eye on this when changing locations, as you may need a different setting depending on lighting and ambient conditions.

04 Use an 85mm “portrait” lens

(Image credit: future)

When Jade needs a slightly tighter crop, she switches to her Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 lens, which has a slightly longer focal length and a brighter maximum aperture of f/1.8. The greater magnification of this classic portrait focal length also creates a greater sense of “squeeze” and separation from the subject, ideal for portraiture.

On the left we see a full-length portrait taken at 24mm on a full-frame SLR, a mid-length portrait taken at 85mm and a close-up (on the right) taken again at 85mm but getting closer to the model. (Image credit: future)

This wider aperture floods the sensor with light allowing for faster shutter speeds and lower ISO values ​​that provide better low-light image quality. It also blurs backgrounds more with a shallower depth of field than with the maximum aperture of f/2.8 on its 24-70mm lens.

• Best lenses for portraits

05 Perfect Poses

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The biggest difference you are likely to see when using a professional model, such as one from a modeling agency rather than a model working for free, is a more relaxed and confident pose. You will also find that they have a greater range of poses that they know work well. So if you really want to take your portraits to the next level, it might be worth booking a professional model.

06 Use a reflector

(Image credit: Manfrotto)

Jade uses portable, cost-effective Manfrotto reflectors to bounce some light back onto her models to add some “fill-in” light. She can also change the quality and color of the reflected light using the different gold and silver sides of her reflector which open up more creative options.

• The best reflectors for photography

07 Use flash

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To prevent details from getting lost in shadows and low-light scenes, Jade uses her Profoto A1 flash. This is on the hot shoe of her EOS 5D Mark IV and Jade will dial in a low flash power setting to start with and add more if she needs to.

• Best Photography Lighting Kits

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08 Get softer light with a diffuser

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Flash light from a bare flash head or bulb can seem extremely harsh and unflattering. For more even and flattering lighting, Jade often rotates her flash head to bounce it off the wall or ceiling, although the reflected light takes on the color of the surface it’s reflected off. This made the reflected light a little too red in these shots, so she attached her flash diffuser instead, which does a great job of softening the flash light for more even shadows.

• Best flash modifiers

09 Master

(Image credit: future)

A battery grip for your camera can be a great addition when shooting portraits, as it provides a much more natural grip when shooting upright, in portrait orientation so you are less strained and that you can compose more easily.

A battery grip for your DSLR or mirrorless camera makes it much more comfortable when shooting in vertical portrait orientation. (Image credit: future)

The BG-E11 battery grip that Shana-Rochelle used on her Canon EOS 5D Mark III body also allowed her to fit two LP-E6 Li-Ion batteries, so she could shoot twice as long without having to worry about battery life. .

10 Good harvest, bad harvest

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Jade tends to avoid frames that cross the model’s joints, such as the knees, ankles or elbows, as it can look awkward. To give you more options, it’s a good idea to shoot a little wider than necessary, then you can always crop the portrait to size when you’re at the editing stage and find the composition that works best in your image.

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