Ep 191: How to frame and compose portraits for maximum impact and how to speed up your editing workflow


When you’re taking a portrait shot, you want to make sure that you’re creating an image that’s going to stay with the viewer for a long time. You want an image that’s compelling, powerful and tells a story. Gina and Valerie discuss their “go to” tips for taking portraits with maximum impact. You’ll also discover how to speed up your workflow and what platforms you can use to make this process easier.

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Show notes

There are 3 ways to take a portrait:

  • Point shoot and hope for the best- No thought or planning
  • Careful planning
  • Intuitively ( this happens with experience)

Give them looking room

  • Place your model ⅓ of the frame and leave space for them to “look” into
  • To create tension do the opposite
  • Low angle if you want them to look powerful
  • High angle makes your model look smaller or less threatening
  • Level with camera is a “normal”
  • If you isolate them, they appear vulnerable
  • The right position or framing can be the difference between a memorable shot and a meh shot

Why does composition matter?

  • You want eyes to stay on your image for longer
  • The longer they look at an image the more powerful it becomes
  • We become attached to things we see all the time

You don’t have to follow these rules but if you do you will give the viewer a more comfortable experience:

  • not too much head room
  • breathing space
  • eyes in top third of frame
  • fill the frame

Listener question from Ky:
Hey guys, so I’m still on the culling thing. Does anyone use Photo Mechanic? If so, what parts of the process are you using it for? Does it help with culling speed? My old iMac’s getting a bit long in the tooth and lightroom culling is quite slow :S

Most commonly used:

  • Capture one
  • Lightroom
  1. Multiple sessions catalogues while editing big shoots then integrate to main catalogue later
  2. Slowness comes from rendering jpeg previews

Another option: Photo Mechanic which is browsing software only

  • Multiple cards at once
  • Does not import RAW files so no downtime waiting for previews to render
  • Saves time in culling and editing

Check Your Computer performance

Increase cache (memory your computer uses to render files) the default is 1GB try 10-25GB depending on size of your HD

LR default cache size is 1GB try increasing this to 10-25GB for better performance

My editing/culling process:

  • First sweep 1 star: Sharp/expression
  • Second Sweep 2 star: Best 3-5 of each expression
  • Third sweep 2 star + red: Final selections for further editing in PS

How to direct and pose like a pro

About Gina

About Gina

Gina Milicia is one of the most widely known and respected photographers in Australia. She is the master of capturing that ‘magical moment’... READ MORE

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