Our favourite styles of portrait photos

Ever wondered what makes some portraits stand out more than others?
Canon photographer Miles Willis has looked at some of his favourite images in the Canon Gallery and told us why these ones caught his eye:

Dos miradas, Manuel Vilches Benitez

Manuel Vilches Benitez had done a really great job in capturing these two children so naturally. Compositionally this works really well, note how Manuel has deliberately cut the top of boys head off, this has allowed him to place his eyes higher up in the frame in accordance with the rule of thirds and makes for a very strong layout. This along with pinpoint focus on the boy’s eyes creates a really strong focal point. This, along with a clean background, lovely texture and muted colours makes this a lovely capture.

Be prepared to get in close, especially shooting children it pays to get down to their level too. You may need to engage them in conversation first to achieve natural looking portraits.

Poppies, Anna Heupel

This stunning natural light portrait by Anna Heupel makes great use of late afternoon sunshine. Often called the ‘golden hour’, the periods shortly after sunrise or before sunset when the sun changes from yellow to orange to red produces warm and flattering light for portraits.

Shooting into the sun and exposing for the shadow creates a rim of light from behind the model, which really makes the subject standout from the background.

Placing the subject in the centre of the frame, Anna has added a little darkening around the edges that focuses the eye on the subject and exaggerates the sun's rays on the poppy field.

Keep an eye out for interesting light, especially at the beginning and end of the day and see the effect this light has on your portraits.

Wedding Guest, Graham Hunt

Candid portrait photography is all about capturing a moment and Graham Hunt has done a great job in this image.

The expression of curiosity on the subject's face adds to the feeling that this image was captured without the subject being too aware of the photographer.

The sunlight shining through a slatted surface has created an unusual lighting pattern, which has been enhanced by using black and white, adding further to the intrigue of this image.

When shooting candid or street portraits, keep your camera at the ready and switched on and be prepared to take the shot in a split second.

Springen in Athen, Beate Korn

Group portraits can be one of the hardest shots to get right. Simply asking your group to stand in a line usually results in a very static composition and the group may appear uncomfortable which won't produce an interesting image.

Getting your group to do something, like Beate has done in this example, such as jumping in the air is a great way to add life to a group photo. You are also guaranteed a few laughs and smiles. When posing people make sure that everyone can clearly see the camera, otherwise they will be blocked in the final shot.

Stagger people of different height to break up a line and take lots of pictures as someone is bound to blink at the critical moment.

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Coming next: Seeing the world without a viewfinder.

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