Exercise: Portrait- scale and setting

This exercise will help you to consider both composition and the weight of attention to place on the face of your subject. You will need to find an interesting setting for a portrait, and then vary the distance (or focal length). You should complete four scales of portrait in this one session:-

– Face, cropped in close

– Head and shoulders

– Torso, taking into account arms and hands

– Full figure

I have done quite a few portrait photo shoots, as this is my area of interest in photography. For this exercise, I chose to capture a little girl I know. I added a bunch of balloons to the picture to create interest and add a little life to the shoot. I found this quite straight forward, and think that I naturally tend to capture different scales of portraiture in photo shoots. I captured four versions as seen below;

Image 1- Face, cropped in close. I zoomed in to capture just the subject’s face in this shot. In order to make the little girl feel more at ease, I got her to pull a funny face to begin with! To strengthen the image further I converted it to black and white in order to focus solely on the subject’s face.

17 (2)

Image 2- Head and Shoulders. I then pulled back slightly- adjusting my focal length, but staying in the same position. The little girl’s auntie chatted away to her in order to relax her, and this enabled me to capture a lovely candid shot. The head and shoulder’s composition is one of my favourites, as it shows of the subject’s face from a flattering focal length.


Image 3- Torso, taking into account arms and hands. This is my favourite shot from this set. Again, the little girl is smiling up at her auntie- providing us with a more candid shot of her, which I love. The torso shot shows a little more of the subject, so whilst shooting I am always careful to watch out for my subject’s hands, as they can appear awkward if not adjusted correctly.



Image 4- Full figure. I edited this photo to convert the whole scene to black and white except the balloons. This creates a quirky feel to this image. The subject is now looking directly at the camera- creating a strong connection between the viewer and the subject. The full figure shot is great for showing the subject as a whole- including showing off the outfit that they will have carefully put together for the photoshoot.