Promoted: Don’t say cheese! How to take amazing portraits: Masterclass #4

Red-eye terror, nostril nightmares, panicky smile fiasco… things to avoid when taking photos of people

Every shot you take with a person in it (or a dog or parrot, for that matter) is a portrait shot. And we all take loads of those with our smartphones, don’t we?

It’s time to make scary devil eyes a thing of the past. Here are the classic mistakes to avoid and how to make your portrait snaps more flattering with the Huawei P8.

Don’t shoot from the wrong height like this – shots up nostrils are never very flattering. Unless that’s the effect you’re going for (perhaps you just love peering up noses, and that’s not weird at all), try to stay level if you can. Your model will thank you.

If you’re shooting someone who’s looking into the camera, make sure their eyes are sharp and focused because that’s what people will look at first. Direct contact makes your subject look more confident.

Beware the shadows – bad lighting is never flattering and shadows can mask the subject’s eyes. Worse still, the dreaded devil eyes have been the bane of snappers for decades.

Thankfully, the Huawei P8 has a nifty red-eye reduction feature in its flash, and, to make doublepluscertain, it’s a good idea to get the subject to look slightly away from the lens in order to reduce potential reflection.

Think about what’s lurking behind your subject before you fire the shutter. Is that a lamp-post sticking out of her head? Or a bird? Unnoticed seagulls not only pinch your chips, they can ruin an otherwise perfect portrait.

And while you should generally aim to get the whole of your subject in focus, does the entire background need to be sharp too? If everything is super-focused, the shot could look too busy.

What do you do if you’ve captured a wide shot that you’re not happy with? Don’t just bin it – a good crop can salvage your picture in seconds. Getting rid of any dull or unsuitable bits can transform a portrait you thought had failed – it could end up being the killer shot.

Most people’s automatic reaction to having a camera thrust facewards is to pull an oddly unnatural grin, or simply panic because the lens is almost definitely about to steal their soul and cast them immediately into eternal oblivion.

But a relaxed model equals a good picture – so you have to help them out a bit.

First, ask them to point their jaw down a little and lean their head forward – that gives you a more defined jawline. And we all know that eyes can smile as much as your mouth, so a cheeky little scrunch of the lower eyelids can work wonders – it makes the subject look happier and more confident.

Finally, talk to the model. Don’t just ask them to say “Cheese!” and then wait an age before snapping a single shot. Keep the shutter firing; try to capture them mid-laugh or when they aren’t expecting it – that’s how you get natural, professional results.

For more information on the Huawei P8 Android smartphone, see here.