In this 11-minute video, portrait photographer Miguel Quiles discusses five lies new portrait photographers believe that could hurt them professionally and curtail their growth as an artist.
Quiles says that the first lie he has seen running rampant as a discussion point in the portrait photography community is that great portraits are a result of great work in Photoshop. While great post-production does indeed have an impact on images, it’s not because of Photoshop alone that the images are good. Great portraits are a result of great lighting, great photography technique, great makeup, and also great post-production all together.
The next point Quiles discusses is the belief that all professional portraits are about the bokeh. Many portrait photographers like shooting with a wide-open depth of field. Sure, many environmental portraits are made better because of a well-defocused background, but some of the highest-end commercial and advertising images are shot with lenses significantly stopped down. Relying on bokeh to make images interesting may end up being a crutch for a burgeoning photographer.
Quiles’ next industry lie is the belief that models should know how to pose themselves. It’s true that seasoned models do have a better sense of how they should pose for photos, but that doesn’t mean what they believe is a fit for your particular image and often they revert to a look they are comfortable with and that is generic. With less experienced models, this is even more the case. How a model appears through the lens is entirely up to the photographer, and learning how to properly work with models is critical to long term success.
The fourth misconception is the idea that you cannot take great portraits without expensive gear. As you’re probably aware, excellent images have been made with some of the most accessible equipment, including smartphones. The idea that you need to buy the best gear available in order to make good images is a major pitfall many photographers can fall into.
Finally, Quiles says that the last lie new photographers believe is that it’s easier to take great portraits of beautiful people. Similar to the point about models needing to post themselves, if you’re not comfortable with your own camera and do not know how to work with the person you are photographing, it’s very easy to make a bad photo regardless of how good looking your subject is. Blaming your inability to make great images on lacking access to beautiful people is a good way to keep yourself from improving.