17 Portrait Photography Tips Everyone Should Master

by | Oct 1, 2021 | Portrait Photography

In order to get a good portrait, one needs a lot of light, a good pose, and a natural expression. This is a skill that needs time and practice. Here are some tips to get you started.

Taking great portraits is an art. It can be as formal as a Hollywood portrait or as candid as a photo of a pet. It’s a way for photographers to take a look at the personality of the object, whoever it may be. Portraits can be done of groups of people or even individuals.

Taking portraits can seem like an easy task, but it may be more difficult than it seems. Portraits should be taken in natural light and while posing your subjects in the way they or you want the expressions to come out. The following are some photography tips for taking portraits.

  1. Choose the Right Lens for Portrait Photography

The length of your lens depends on the theme you are going for. 35mm lenses work well for eco-friendly photography because they give you a broad view. 50mm and 85mm lenses are good at the mid-range, but if you want to get close you’ll need a lens of 135mm or 70-200mm. The zoom or prime lens debate is not new to the photography world. Zoom lenses are great for capturing multiple subjects in the frame, but they lack the same sharpness and clarity as a prime lens. Prime lenses can be difficult to use when subjects are constantly moving, but they offer an unparalleled aesthetic. Choose wisely!

2.Focus on the Eyes

Virtuous portraits don’t need to capture the entire theme. Some paparazzi prefer to capture the main focus with a thin plan and blurred background to draw attention. How much of your subject do you want to have shown, and it is important to get the focus point sharp. When selecting the focus point, make sure it is in the center of the camera lens.

3.Be Aware of Your Light

Light is a photographer’s most important tool. If the light is bad, the photo will be bad. For outdoor shots, the best time to take photos is before sunrise and after sunset. This is when the light is warm and soft. Many photographers find this the easiest time to work with natural light.

4.The Right Aperture for Portrait Photography

The more openings, the blurrier the background. The wider you go with your f/2.8, the less of your subject will be focused on. Thinner apertures are used to show more detail in the background.

5.Be Careful with Cropping

To crop in a way that feels natural. For example, instead of cutting off the subject’s hand, crop it up on the arm and leave some space above the head.

6.Get on Their Level

When photographing a child or animal in a moving environment, get down to their level to capture them from an eye-level perspective. This will give you a more natural picture and a satisfying angle of the subject.

7.Look for Sources of Light

When people first take pictures, the sun or moon should be their main source of light. If you are shooting indoors, place your subject near the window so they will receive the same amount of light as they would like a regular light. They can also check their camera’s manual for low light settings!

8.Use Flash When Necessary

When there is a lack of natural light, you need to use a flash. This will provide the object with more brightness during nighttime. When shooting indoors, bounce the light off the wall or even the ceiling so that the object is lit properly and you can get a good shot.

9.Consider Using a Reflector

Flash is an important tool for photographers. It helps to adjust how light reflects on a person or object. Reflectors are helpful, too – they are large disks that can be used to bounce back the light onto the subject or object. Reflectors are more helpful when shooting outside in bright light. This allows for shadows to be added and the overall experience to be improved.

10.Shoot in RAW

There are two types of photos: JPEG and RAW. JPEGs are smaller but RAW files can store more data and give plenty of post-processing options. Shooting in RAW will give you the flexibility to adjust many features, such as highlights, shadows, and white balance

11. Learn Manual Mode

Unlike many, you may find it easier to just turn your camera on and start shooting. But don’t do this. When your camera is set to “automatic” mode, it makes assumptions about what you want to be able to see, and those guesses can rarely be accurate. It can be tough to take a good photo. Correct exposure means that the background is well lit and the subject is appropriately shadowed. Shooting in manual mode is a great way to gain more control over your final image. You are smarter than your camera! 

12.Get Authentic Facial Expressions

A portrait of someone should show their natural state. You can get to know your subject and talk with them while you take pictures. This will make them more confident and feel more comfortable. An important thing to remember is not to ask for a fake expression. Be relaxed and get to know your subject.

13.Direct Your Model

When photographing subjects, make sure they are aware of the camera and not steeped in a natural or relaxed moment. Provide them with things to do, such as playing with their hair, smiling at someone off-camera, or even gazing straight into the camera lens. In this way, photos will feel less forced and more natural. If you’re new to photography, try coming up with ideas beforehand.

14.Go for Flattering Angles

It’s not always best to take a portrait straight on. You can try turning at a 45-degree angle or exploding one hip to make a big difference in how someone looks. Anything that is closer to the front frame will look larger than anything in the back.

15.Play with the Style

When taking portraits, it is important to be formal and posed. Let your subjects feel comfortable and free. Snap away as they play and frolic in a field. Friends and lovers should interact with each other for the best results. If you must capture a large group of people, try to engage them by asking questions to get them engaged with the process and themselves.

16.Use Props

When shooting for a more energetic look, give your model a prop, such as a scarf, hat, blanket, or pet. This will help them relax and give you a variety of poses.

17.Keep Subjects Comfortable

When you ruin a shoot, there are three things that come to mind. One, it’s easier to ruin a shoot than create one. Two, it’s better to ruin a shoot quickly than slowly. Three, you should make the subjects comfortable so they can work the camera with ease. Kind gestures should include snacks and drinks for tired folks. People need time to rest because posing can be draining. Posing is tough work so people need breaks here and there.

If you’re looking for a camera, it’s important to consider how you’ll use it. DSLRs are the behemoths of the photography world and they’re not the only way to go. Mirrorless cameras are the smaller and lighter alternatives to DSLR systems and they’re very capable, too. If you are having a hard time deciding on your photography camera, renting one can be a great way to figure out what you like.