17 Portrait Photography Tips Everyone Should Master

by | Oct 1, 2021 | Portrait Photography

Portraits requires a good amount of light, posing, and seizing natural expressions. It’s a skill that needs time and practice. Here are some tips to get you started.Portrait photography is one of the popular types of photography and one of the reasons why many people first pick up a camera. Portraits focus on taking the look and personality of the object. They can be formal and posed or have a more of a candid texture. Portraits can be of individuals, groups of people, or even pets.

Whatever you end up looking for, it’s important to take your time.

Tips to take the perfect portrait

This first part is definitely the trickiest and can take some practice to master.

1. Select your ideal subject.

Choose what type of subject you want to shoot and make sure it’s a pose that feels comfortable for you. For example, if you want to photograph a photographer, you may want someone who is naturally more relaxed and unwilling to rock an arm to take a picture. All the previous tips also apply here.

2. Set the scene.

The way you set the scene helps convey the emotion of the photo. For example, if you want to photograph lyrics or a song, you want to show different emotions about these lyrics — maybe how someone feels after the song ends or how the performer is as an individual. Maybe you also want to capture someone who is just starting to perform, or someone in a different environment. Great photos show a variety of feelings about the subject.

3. Set the mood.

Remember, your photos have to really capture the mood of the moment. Is it dark and dreary or a sunny day with the sun shining? Your photos also have to feel authentic. Make sure your photos feel like your own — don’t just take your friends’ pictures, which will likely feel a bit fake.

Intent and emotion are also essential to master when it comes to portrait photography. You always want to make sure that the person in the photo is taken with the expectation of a proud pose or on a happy or relaxed subject.

If you’re too close or too distant from your person, the photo may not feel authentic. If the subject is anxious, the photo will likely feel out of elements.

4. Create a visual grid.

Add in a few different shots to create a grid or guide for the subject to create an accurate impression. Take a look at the photo below. Notice the different angles and how each photo is taking from a different camera set-up perspective. This is especially important if you stand or sit close to the subject.

Portrait photography Examples

How to get started: Consider your ideal subjects and see what Nikon lets you do. There are tons of camera options that work with more bits of light, and Nikon allows you to create the grid.

A professional portrait can cost between $500 and $4,000 and it takes a good photographer who also does portrait shoots to capture a high-quality shot.

How to take great pictures:

Decide on your ideal shot. Are you targeting an audience of young couples, couples with children, parents with teenagers, couples who are in business together, parents-to-be, older couples, and so on?

Find an object or scenery that will bring out the mood you are trying to create.

Turn on your camera and have your subject stand in front allowing you to have a better angle.

Make sure your lighting is nice and accurate.

Take your time with your shot. Exposure times can vary significantly depending on the time of the day and your subject’s face expression.

Here are several tips to consider.

Photo tips:

Use neutral colors that stand out from the darker background.

Use a wide angle lens to capture your focal point in the middle of face. High-angle lenses make the background appear blurred.

Keep the image size at no larger than A3 (800 x 600) to avoid cropping.

Don’t use filters. They do make a difference, but in general they are not worth it.

Try to edit your photos after you’ve taken them. Reduce intensity of exposure, remove extraneous separation, compress your space, and change your camera settings for more natural color.

Your photos should bring out the personality of the subject and make them look as real as possible but not too real.

Photo CC/Flickr user: faded_flux

Ready to get started?

Check out the amazing resource center here.

And don’t miss Portrait Tips for Your Business or Workplace Portfolio to make your technical and photographic planning easier.

Flavilla Fongang is a Digital Content Marketer at Fractl. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

With this style of photography, you will likely feel more comfortable when you’re capturing subjects. This may open doors to other types of photography, including landscapes, events, and astro photography. You just don’t know it yet.Not everyone works well with a shallow depth of field. This means that objects within the frame have an out-of-focus quality. Think of this as having an out-of-focus or half-focused background. Learning how to avoid this is one of the hardest skills to master for portrait photography.One of the most widely-used techniques for good portrait lighting is group portraits. This moves all your subjects in proximity and lets you bring out specific facial features in their lighting. Most often, these groups come in the form of a couple, family, and close friends. There are also groups you can add to your pictures if you know how to use it.Fun fact: selfies have been linked to better memory as studies show that people who took selfies showed increased plasticity. This research paper talks to the ability for neurons in the hippocampus to reorganize photos from memory to new contexts

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