Even if you've been photographing portraits for years, you’ll never stop learning new things, new techniques, and just try to improve generally. Of course, it's something you should aspire to as much as possible.
The elements you have to work with are always the same, however, the combinations you can use are pretty much endless.
Mixing and matching ideas on top of existing ideas, and trying out new concepts are things you should try to do all the time. Get out of your comfort zone and just try some of these great ideas.
Underexposed Daylight Shots
There is quite good trickery that you can use to simulate different times of the day by utilizing exposure. If you underexpose a shot during midday, and work on the blue tones a tad, you can achieve a very interesting effect. Basically, the shot will look as if it was shot right before night time, but with more dynamic light.
It will also work if you try to simulate a different time of the day. Except for sunset/sunrise, since the angle of light is different.
Busy Background Close Ups
Often if you do a portrait that is something in between action, candid, and behind the scenes type of shot, you’ll get emotion and expression that you won’t necessarily get otherwise.
Usually, you’d go for something like 35mm with a wide aperture on this, to isolate your subject from the background but still have a general idea what is going on right there in the moment. Using ambient light or bounced flash for this would be effective at enhancing your photo, but this is up to you.
You can mix and match (almost) everything when it comes to photography, and as long as it's pleasing to the eye, you’ve done a great job.
Reflections are really interesting to play with.
Have them IN focus, OUT of focus, covering your subject partially, interfering with the background, have them projected using a prism, and so forth. You can utilize glass surfaces (mirrors, windows, and so forth) to shoot through or against them to utilize a reflection as an element which will improve the portrait.
If you shoot through a glass, you can have a reflection to act as a foreground element which will cover a part of the portrait, or you can do the opposite in order to have it act as a background.
Experiment With Unusual Angles
Usually we're prone to using the same angles i.e. in our comfort zone. However, if we get out of that zone, and start thinking a bit differently, many ideas will come to mind. Trust me.
Try high up, or top down, shoot from angles that you haven’t shot from before, it never hurts to try a different perspective and the results can be really creative and completely transform a photograph.
As an addition to the last subject, you can also try playing with symmetry, leading lines and so forth. It's always good to experiment with new techniques, different scenery and alternative concepts.
Elements For A More Complex Concept
Usually, we try to simplify things in order to make for a cleaner image. However, a more complex concept can be great as well. Add more elements to your concept, develop your idea further and don’t be afraid to risk it a bit.
Bigger scenes with more elements often gives a greater worth to the image. When people realize that there are more elements at play, they tend to appreciate the photograph more since they can feel the difficulty in the process and the work put into the photo.
Ideas come and go, comfort zones keep expanding. The whole idea is to try new things all the time, experiment, push yourself outside the limits you find yourself in. The progress will motivate you to keep on going.
When you try different things, you expand your horizons, whilst defining your style even more. In each different scenario you try out, there will be something that will slip in to keep your style and flow going.
Being able to do different things, demonstrate your creativity and have them look unique is a great addition to your portfolio skills.
Great tips, Dzvonko. I especially agree with summary, that trying different things expands your horizons. I love trying new perspectives and angles in my free time, since I mostly do headshots and portraits where it’s required to have “professional” angles.