10 Tips to Take Beautiful Portraits When Traveling

While travelling, a camera is a wonderful pretext to meet people, exchange and share emotions. The image is a language of its own, accessible immediately and by everyone, at all ages. In each shot, it is a bit of yourself that is expressed and that you deliver to the other by showing them the result… a conversation that can be established!
On the gear side, a telephoto lens (70-200 mm) and a transtandard lens (24-105 mm type) can cover a wide variety of frames.

1. The classical rules of composition apply to portraits, images depicting characters or crowd views.

In a close-up portrait, position the subject’s eye preferably on one of the strong points of the image. In a wide shot, shift the character and leave space in the direction of his gaze or movement.

2. The focus should be on one eye: the closest to you if the character is not facing you, or the most enlightened eye if the face is between light and shadow.

If your viewfinder cannot focus on the eye, position it on the eyebrow, which has a larger contrast area to catch.

3. Consider using the location, environment or habitat to situate the characters in a country context and take advantage of the setting.

4. Don’t be afraid to approach people once contact is established and they have agreed to let you take their pictures.

5. Play with the depth of field. Choose an area of reduced sharpness to bring out a portrait on a blurred background or, on the contrary, an area of extended sharpness to place characters in their context or show the importance of a crowd.

6. For close-up portraits, use a focal length bigger than or equal to 85 mm to avoid distortions related to the wide lenses.

7. Pay attention to the mid-day lights that come from above and create unsightly shadows under the eyes and noses of the characters.

Prefer low-angled lights at the beginning or end of the day, or subjects in the shade or indoors for softer atmospheres.

8. Indoors, with natural light entering through windows or doors, make sure you trigger when your subject is facing the light.
You will then see a white dot appear in their eyes, like the last brush stroke of the painter who adds the touch of life.

9. Observe your subject, be patient, wait for the right moment to trigger: facial expression, scene between several individuals, particular gesture, look…

10. In the case of parties or markets, be careful not to take confusing pictures where the characters are cut. Avoid conflicting guidelines and scenes that are difficult to read.

It is important to be able to isolate characters in close-up shots at the telephoto lens and to find points of view that give an overall view of the crowd, the atmosphere and the context.