I get asked a lot of questions about photography and always endeavour to help up and coming photographers as much as possible, hence I thought I'd post my first news article.
I've been doing photography professionally for 25 years and I still feel I have so much to learn, but by looking back at my earlier work I can also see how much I've improved.
The 1st rule is that all rules are made to be broken, but sticking to a few tried & true methods will definately help in the beginning.
Composition - putting your subjuct in the middle of the frame usually looks plain boring. The rule of thirds is a method where you divide the frame into thirds in both directions and place your subject there like this [link]
or this [link]
If you have a subject positioned like this they should be looking toward the centre of the frame so that it takes the viewers eye into the frame and not out of it, like this [link]
Also don't forget to rotate your camera to landscape or portrait format depending on the style of shot you're after.
Look for interesting angles & viewpoints, walk around your subject, get down low on the ground, get up high. Different lenses can dramatically alter the perspective of the shot by allowing viewpoints that aren't commonly seen like this wide angle shot [link]
or this telephoto shot [link]
Lighting. This is by far the trickiest aspect of photography to grasp & be able to control. When I first started everything was shot by natural light, so I'll start with that.
Natural light can be either hard (sun with no clouds) or soft (overcast), both produce completely different results. Hard light is almost always better shot in early morning or late afternoon as it can produce some very nasty shadows on peple that are not at all flattering, get the person to turn around and look at the way the light fall on them from different angles. Having the light falling directly on the models face can produce results like this [link]
whereas having it behing the model can produce some nice silhouettes [link]
If you don't want a silhouette but still want the sun behind the model you can adjust the exposure for the models face and leave the sky burnt out [link]
Soft light is much more forgiving and gives a much softer look [link]
although sometimes it can look a bit flat & boring (bumping the contrast in ps helps).
Once you go beyond available light you will start using flash. The easiest way is having the flash on the camera (not really the best though). You can then use the flash to highlight the models eyes etc. on overcast days and light up the front of the model when you are baclighting with the sun or even use the flash in combination with time exposures at night [link]
By far the greatest improvement to my photography came when I started using the flashes (up to 4 of them) OFF the camera. I have a transmitter on the hotshoe and they trigger the flashes wirelessly. These are the gadgets I use [link]
You can get some amazing results and can add light modifiers such as umbrellas, softboxes too.
The majority of my port has been shot using this method, this [link]
was shot at the same time of day as this [link]
(the light rays are flash) beleive it or not.