One of the most popular, and perhaps the oldest type of photography is portraiture or portrait photography. The aim of this genre is more than just taking a photo of a face or faces of the subjects. It’s about capturing the uniqueness of an individual or individuals. It’s about portraying the essence, quality, and identity of a person.
In order to take a photo of a full-body portrait that accurately represents the subject’s personality, photographers traditionally make use of proper lighting, creative backdrops, and various poses that convey the identity that the subjects want to represent.
However, just like other photography genres, portrait photography has experienced transformations and introduced newer and more creative camera techniques for taking portrait photos. One example of these portrait innovations shooting a portrait using forced perspectives.
What is Forced Perspectives as a Photography Technique for Portraiture?
Forced perspectives is a photography technique that plays with our visual perception by visually manipulating the relationship between two or more objects, in terms of distance, angle, perspective, and focus.
Technically, forced perspective photography uses a type of optical illusion to make subjects closer, farther away, larger, or smaller than they actually are. Using one’s imagination, the types of images that one can produce through this technique are limitless–and portrait photographers are no exception.
Portraiture using forced perspectives delivers some of the most interesting images out there. Combining technique, creativity, the proper camera equipment, and most importantly, accurate camera control, can help anyone master this portrait photography technique.
While you can create forced perspective shots for existing raw photos using editing software, using your camera alone can give you a higher quality image, plus the experience that you gain from practicing this most recent shooting technique.
In this article, we’ll talk about how you can complete your very first forced perspective portrait photoshoot by introducing the proper camera setup and creative portrait photography tips below.
Creative Forced Perspectives Ideas for Portrait Photography
Here are some fun forced perspective portraits that you should try.
1. Flat Image Portraits
One of the main goals of flat image forced perspective is to make the image appear two-dimensional. From its name, the subject and the background will blend together to create a portrait that looks literally “flat.”
That’s why, in this technique, your camera angle is important. Just a few degrees off or positioning your subject sideways, can reveal the real depth and break the illusion.
There are a lot of portraiture ideas on which you can use this technique. For instance, you can portray a suspended running pose against a patterned backdrop. Flooring with colorful tiling, masonry, or carpeted flooring can provide an interesting geometry to the shot.
Another more popular use of the flat image method is taking a portrait of a person riding a bike. You can make an outdoor shoot in a grassy field as your backdrop. Add elements, such as flowers, paper planes, leaves, and a flowing dress to create an illusion of speed and forward motion.
2. Framed Photo Illusion Portraits
In photography, framing is a clever technique that helps your audience focus on a specific subject in your image. You can achieve this by using a strategic composition and introducing an object or a geometric element to block and frame the subject.
Framing is a great method when doing solo or group portraiture. Some of the most beautiful portraits using this technique are often candid and spontaneous.
3. Solo Portraits
You can use an actual picture frame to “frame” the subject and make the audience focus on their facial expression. You can intentionally blur out the other parts of the photo to further emphasize the focus of the shot.
Additionally, using a black and white filter can add a narrative to the image. The combination of these elements can deliver a meaningful image that can effectively convey the emotional state of the subject when the photo was taken.
4. Group Portrait
You can also use framing to add a creative composition to your group photos, especially family photos. For instance, it’s your kid’s first birthday and you’re looking to take a family portrait for the invitation cards. Instead of hiring a photographer, you can try these tips for a photoshoot.
Prepare a wooden or decorated frame. It can either be a square, circular, or rectangular frame. Additionally, make sure that it is light as you’ll be lifting it for multiple shots. Mount your camera on a sturdy tripod. One important item here is a remote camera trigger that can wirelessly signal your camera to shoot.
Finally, decide on your composition. What do you want your group photo to look like? Assign a position for every person who is going to be in the shot. Decide who will hold the frame and who will be in the framed photo illusion. This person will stand farther into the background, behind everyone. Do multiple test shots and be creative with your composition.
5. Interact with Your Environment
One of the most important techniques in forced perspective is manipulating the image’s depth of field (DoF). Basically, depth of field defines your image’s perspectives, and how far or near your subject is, in relation to the other physical environment.
In forced perspective shots, the goal is to totally eliminate the effects of depth of field in order to trick the idea and flawlessly deliver your optical illusion. The best way to do that is to interact with your background.
If you want to complete portrait photography using this method, start by finding a site that allows you to interact with your environment. Some of the favorite sites of forced perspective photographers are streets, buildings, flat surfaces, stairs, corridors, and boardwalks.
Remember that you’re trying to create an illusion, so don’t be too literal and boring! For example, what can you do with train tracks as your backdrop? What do they look like? Think of an object that is structurally similar to them. Any ideas? Yes - a ladder!
Create an illusion of the subject, climbing a ladder, grabbing and stepping on the rail sleepers just as you do on the ladder’s steps. Create a sense of upward movement by making exaggerated poses with the arms and legs.
6. Capture Portraits of Giants
When you Google “forced perspectives,” the top results will be photos of a giant who is about to trample on a frightened group of tiny people or a miniature building. This is a neat optical illusion, made possible by the different techniques and tricks in forced perspective.
Some variations of this type of forced perspective portrait are a person eating a car, pinching a hot air balloon, and stomping on a mountain or skyscraper.
If you want to make a similar portrait and make yourself look like a giant without using editing software, think of the right composition.
The object that you want to manipulate to appear smaller should be farther in the background. The subject that you want to appear larger should be nearer the camera. Check your camera frame and make sure that you have your desired size. Everything should be lined up properly before remotely activating your camera’s shutter.
Finally, the most important factor to make the illusion work is to set your camera’s focus. The larger subject and the smaller objects in the background should have the same level of focus and sharpness.
7. Use Objects in Nature
The most creative forced perspectives make use of very unlikely props that you can find everywhere. Again, as a type of illusion, it uses deception and mimicry to transform ordinary images into fantastic photos.
For instance, you can use different kinds and colors of flowers to create creative full-body portraits of classical dancers, ballerinas, and other similar subjects that embody grace, elegance, and beauty.
You don’t have to limit yourself to flowers. Try other objects that will fit the narratives that you are trying to portray. If you’re shooting a portrait session that wants to highlight strength and firmness, you can rely on the textures and toughness of tree barks, rocks, and objects with similar characteristics.
8. Gravity-Bending Portraits
Finally, one of the easiest forced perspective techniques that you can incorporate into your portrait photography is shooting gravity-defying images–or at least that’s how it will look like.
Gravity bending is an awesome forced perspective trick that relies on the background, some quick post-processing, and most importantly, your creativity. Here’s how to do it.
First, find a safe place, such as a wall or a building, where you can do your photo shoot. Then, ask your subject to lie on the ground. They should be seated, with their legs flush against the wall. Next is to create an illusion of height. Turn your camera on its side so that, in your camera’s frame, the wall will become the ground.
For the illusion to work, however, make sure your subject’s hair, clothing, and other props are “hanging” in the right direction.
Aside from these examples, you can also explore your own forced perspectives and ideas. The only thing you need is to learn how to set up a forced perspective portrait shot. We’ll talk about it in the next section.
Three Important Factors that Determine the Success of Your Forced Perspective Shot
Having the proper camera setup can ensure that your first attempt at forced perspective is a success.
Here are some professional tips from creative portrait photographers on how to set up the most important settings in your camera involved in taking forced perspective shots.
1. Aperture Settings
One of the most significant settings in forced perspective is the aperture. As you know, the aperture controls the amount of light that enters your camera. It also determines your depth of field and how your photo will turn out, in terms of clarity or blurriness.
When using forced perspective, you have to use a small aperture to make sure that the subject and the background have the same level of clarity. In other words, to create your visual illusion and blend together two or more objects, you have to maintain the correct depth of field that delivers crystal clear details in every part of the frame.
The recommended aperture settings, depending on the type of portrait you want to shoot, are within the range of f/8 to f/16. Adjust your shutter speed accordingly.
2. Composition Planning
For a forced perspective shot to work, you have to study and plan your composition. It is a critical aspect that will determine your success or failure.
Placing your subjects against the background, positioning the objects and props to support your optical illusion, and blending the elements of the foreground with the background, are just some steps that you can take to create a better and more convincing composition.
Unique and thrilling portrait shoots are done outdoors, with photographers placing their camera and tripod in hard-to-reach places just to achieve that perfect angle. After all, the angle is one vital element of forced perspectives, as shown in the examples earlier.
Meet FLEX, a smart camera gadget for creative photography.
Meet FLEX, a smart camera gadget for creative photography.
4. Camera Equipment
Finally, the most important factor is camera equipment. You don’t have to use the most advanced camera gear. Even an entry-level DSLR can deliver stunning forced perspective portraits out there. However, if you want to upgrade and transform your shots, you’re gonna need an additional camera device, especially a gadget that can help you control your camera from a distance.
In the examples above, we’ve mentioned how you need a camera control device that can wirelessly trigger your gear to shoot. The most recommended of them all is MIOPS Flex, a camera gadget known to have helped creative photographers overcome the challenges of forced perspective shots.
Why is MIOPS Flex a great device for Forced Perspective Photographers?
MIOPS Flex is a camera control device that can be mounted on your tripod and attached to your camera. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth. Through its dedicated MIOPS mobile app, you can control your camera from a distance.
Creative portraits using forced perspective are often done outdoors, using natural and manmade structures as your background. It means that, unlike shooting in a controlled studio environment, you’re going to deal with different light sources.
You’re going to have to constantly adjust your camera’s important settings, such as the aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and exposure, among others. You can do all these using Flex’s MIOPS mobile app.
Additionally, having a camera remote control can give you the freedom to complete portrait photography sessions on your own or without manual control, whenever and wherever you want. If you’re traveling, on the road, or just having fun with friends, you can leave your camera on your tripod and start shooting from the best angle.
Aside from being a great camera accessory for forced perspective and portrait photography, there are other amazing things that you can accomplish using this device. Find out more about MIOPS Flex and other MIOPS gadgets today!
Blog Credit: Charm Villalon
Charm is a writer and a visual artist. Her drive to share ideas and stories is evident in her background in communication arts and language studies. Years of professional experience in content creation have given her a broad proficiency with the process of engaging online communities. An appreciation for multiple languages and cultures drives her to seek out experiences and capture these moments through her writing, digital art, and photography.