Emphasis is a pretty neat trick that you can use various ways in your photos to make things stand out or illustrate size. In portrait and people photography you can use emphasis to make your subjects big, small, important or not.

Low Viewpoint

A low viewpoint can be used to make ordinary images interesting and can add a certain “strength” to your subjects. By taking a photo from ground level, looking up you can turn even the tiniest toddler into a giant, creating a dramatic image. This technique can also come in handy when you have distracting backgrounds that you want to eliminate, or if you want to separate your subject from the surroundings.

High Viewpoint

By including mom or dad’s fingers you get a sense of scale – how small the baby’s hand is in comparison.

 A high viewpoint can help to give context, to an image, by giving your viewer some surroundings to orient them. However, when you use a high viewpoint you’re also minimizing your subject and making them appear very small.


Proportion deals with the relationship between size and scale. Size is measurable, it is how large or small something or someone is, while scale  is relative – it refers to how large or small something appears. If you take a photo of your child in front of a small tree, he looks big, but if you find an old-growth tree and take a picture of him in front of that, he looks small. Although his size hasn’t change the scale has.You can use proportion to make your subject appear large or small, or to give a relative scale to something else in the photo, such as a sculpture, building, or natural formation. Although you may not use this technique all the time, it’s good to keep in mind when you are dealing with very large or very small objects in your images.

Another example of scale – the large door makes the subject appear smaller.

Emphasis on Your Subject

In some images it is simple to make your subject stand out: just make sure they are up front! Blurring the background helps too. However, sometimes you need more tricks to help create a good family portrait, particularly if there are other people around. Some other options to give more emphasis include wearing something that contrasts with the background, using leading lines, or simply zooming in so that your subject takes up as much space as possible.There are some other ways to indicate emphasis, such as using the low-angle or high-angle shots mentioned above, or some other composition techniques include natural frames and the rule of thirds.Proportion, perspective and emphasis are not easy techniques to master, but they are something to think about when you want to create dynamic images that “break the mold” from your traditional child portrait photo – get out there and give it a try!

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