The Beauty of Imperfection How to Capture Authentic Portraits

The most amazing pictures are authentic, simple, and strong. They convey presence, values, personality, and ideals. They reach down, awaken our senses and make us feel; they remind us of the need to be alive. Summarily, they are real, authentic, and imperfect!

This is what authentic portraiture is about; capturing the imperfections; images that are so real, imperfect, and beautiful they take your breath away. 

Photographers can better carve a name for themselves by following the less traveled road, and capturing imperfections is one such way. 

Finding the Right Subject

In photography, the subject is as important as anything else. It conveys the message behind the picture. Without a clearly defined picture, your message will get lost, and the photo will look uninviting.

However, if you wish to stand out from the crowd, it’s important to find a unique subject with character. Even if the message is the same, taking pictures of unique subjects will portray you as different, unique, and talented. 

So, before taking a picture, consider the subject. Here are a few tips on how to identify and approach potential subjects:

  • Proper Positioning

Choosing where to position your subject within the picture frame can help it receive more attention. As a rule of thumb, subjects should be placed to one side, which draws the viewer’s eye more. Also, placing the subject at the center emphasizes its pattern and symmetry. For moving subjects, leave additional space in the frame in the direction it is headed.

  • Create the right perspective.

The angle from which a subject is shot impacts how it’s perceived. Thus, experiment with different angles to determine the best shape. Usually, not only will the subject’s shape change from different angles, but the size may also appear to change. For example, shooting down a subject makes it look smaller, while subjects close to the camera appear larger.

  • Shoot with Light

Light plays a huge role in how a subject appears. For instance, when flowers and leaves are backlit, they glow. Front light tends to reveal all the intrinsic details of the subject, while side lighting emphasizes shadows. Also, lighter shadows create a soft and elegant look, while dark shadows create contrasts that give the picture a dramatic look.

Creating a Connection

Emotions create depth, tell a story about the subject, and help you express how you want your viewers to feel. Hence, it’s important to create a connection when taking a picture.

Here’s how to make your subject feel comfortable and at ease:

  • Create a bond with the subject before beginning to shoot
  • Communicate with your subject as you shoot
  • Coach your subject on flattering poses to bring out their best
  • Play nice music in the background

Working with Natural Light

There’s just something about natural light that makes portrait photography look soft, ethereal, and dreamy. Natural lighting determines the brightness or darkness of a picture, its mood, tone, and atmosphere, and is best found during the golden or magic hour. It is easy to set up and use, flatters all skin tones, allows for more flexibility, and is less overwhelming.

If you are looking to take beautiful pictures using natural light, here are tips for capturing stunning natural light portraits:

  • Find the right location: Natural light photography is more than just the subject; it’s also about the location or background. Choosing the wrong location will cause the pictures to look boring, bland, and poorly lit. In selecting the right location, avoid high-contrast backgrounds with a blend of shade and sun; also, avoid backgrounds with busy shapes or bright colors. Rather, look for low-contrast places that are uncluttered and darker than the subject. This will enable the picture to appear three-dimensional. 
  • Use the right tools: Several tools can help reshape and change the amount of light on the subject. Diffusers and reflectors are some of the most common tools; reflectors, in particular, is a tool that redirects light to the subject. While it doesn’t create light, it redirects the present light, helping lessen odd shadows and creating light fill.
  • Shoot in the right direction: To create beautiful results, using the right type of light is important. The best light is in open shade, which can be found at the edges of buildings or trees, inside windows or doorways. To get the perfect picture, position your subject in an area that’s shaded but not overly so; this way, you get the soft effect produced by the shade but not the heavy darkness that comes with a full shade.

Embracing Imperfections

With visual content becoming a universal digital language, more and more photographers strive for perfection. What the world needs, though, are not pictures that are so perfect that they become misleading but rather authentic and true pictures. Imperfect pictures while being uniquely beautiful, helps creates authenticity, trust, and a uniqueness that can’t be found anywhere else. It adds character and depth to a subject and makes it realistic.

Here are some tips on how to capture imperfections:

  • Focus on unique features: Every great picture has something special which makes you stop and stare. To capture imperfections and create something excellent, focus on some unique features, such as abstract objects. Also, you can change the angle, play with shadows, try a different composition, add a blur, or just focus on your focal colors.
  • Avoid retouching too heavily: Editing your pictures excessively robs them of their authenticity and uniqueness. Hence, resist the urge to be perfect; seek simple retouches and edits that leave your picture better but still help it retain its originality.

Capturing Authentic Emotions

Capturing authentic, emotional feelings in images is crucial to creating beautiful and compelling pictures that speak to your audience and leave you in their minds.

Getting an authentic emotion out of your subject can be quite tricky, but here are some tips to guide you:

  • Use the element of surprise
  • Small talks and chit chats
  • Become a director
  • Anticipate important moments
  • Focus on the eyes
  • Zoom in on other details
  • Get your subject to do something


Even in the things that seem broken, there is beauty, and the same is true for those pictures that aren’t as clean and edited as what is saturating the internet. Some of the appeals of imperfect pictures are that it mirrors the mind’s eye; they appear more real and show life as it is, chaotic, random, and sometimes unpredictable.

To create beautiful imperfect pictures, work with the light, potion the subject right and create the right perspective. Rather than avoid imperfections, focus on the unique features of the subject and avoid over touching. These and more will help you create imperfect pictures that are yet stunning and timeless.

There’s nothing more alluring, nothing more authentic than the perfectly imperfect picture of anything or anyone.