Portrait Photography: 17 Tips To Master Portrait Photography

Updated on March 8, 2023 in Photography by

Portrait Photography: 17 Tips To Master Portrait Photography

Portrait photography is one of the hottest trends right now. It has made its way through editorials, eCommerce photography, celebrity photoshoots, and yes, personal Instagram as well.

But unlike other photography styles that we keep hearing about, portrait photography is something that is making a huge impact. That is why the demand for professional portrait photographers is also increasing.

Be it a commercial shoot, or wedding photography, everyone is looking for that one picture that they can flaunt over and over again. Today, you’ll be learning how to capture that.

Here you’ll be learning about:

Yes, we are sharing everything right in this article. So make sure you bookmark it and share it with your photography gang as well. Without any further delay, let’s get started with the first chapter here.

What is portrait photography?

Portrait photography is a style of capturing a person’s personality or characters through the right camera settings, lighting, background angle, poses, and composition. At the same time, portrait photography is an art that helps in evoking emotion in the viewers.

Some of the most common emotions that one can portray using this style of photography are sadness, blissfulness, over the moon, dual personalities, secretive, bold, and happiness.

Using the right techniques and practicing this skill, you can master portrait photography to evoke any emotion within your viewers.

And that’s what makes this photography style so popular and impactful. You can make a bride relive her first dance and at the same time make people buy products online from an eCommerce.

Types of portrait photography

Portrait photography can generally be divided into three types these are:

1. Standard Portrait


These are regular portrait styles with a simple pose or a smile. The focus is entirely on the subject with a simple background and natural lighting.

In addition to these common traits, in Standard portrait photography, you will find that the model is aware when they are being captured and has good eye contact with the camera.

The self-portrait style is one of the best examples of standard portrait photography. 

2. Natural Portrait

Types of portrait photography - Natural Portrait

Natural portrait photography is the style where you capture your model in their natural environment doing what they would normally do. Simple activities like walking, watching, interacting, etc are the prime focus of this style.

What makes this style unique and impactful is the composition and angles you go for. You must be looking for a new way and perspective to present the model. Something that stands out and still feels natural.

Close-up, lifestyle, and candid portraits are some of the most common examples of natural portrait style.

3. Creative portrait

The creative portrait is one of the most popular portrait photography styles because of its ability to draw the attention of the viewers instantly. Here everything is mostly planned and set up for the same reason share a message and create an impact on the viewer.

And when we say everything, we mean everything. The background, the type of lighting, the pose, the editing style, the composition, and everything else.

Sure, one can let the model share their input as well that aligns with the message and emotions that you are looking for, but most of the time everything is planned and discussed before getting started.

Some of the best examples of creative portrait photography are Glamor portraits; Conceptual portraits, and model portrait photography.

17 Tips to Master Portrait Photography

Now, don’t worry about learning. We have transcribed every lesson from the real world and mentioned 17 Tips to Master Portrait Photography. Go through each point and find out new routes to become a professional.

1. Capturing the expressions right

Capturing the expressions right - Portrait Photography

In order to get the best portrait photography results, you shall always make sure that the emotions are captured right. A person may fake a smile for the camera, but having a genuine smile and sparkling eyes can turn your image into a masterpiece.

If you are on a professional project, make sure you know which emotion you are looking to show. Even a neutral face can be used to portrait lethargy, suffering, or lack of emotion. It is up to you and your model how and what you would like to tell a story in a single image.

2. Spend time with your model

Spend time with your model - Portrait Photography

It’s very important that your model is aware of the story, product, or the aim with which you are capturing them. Discuss your ideas, and tell them what you are expecting out of the shot.

You can take it a step further by meeting a day or two before the day of the shot. It will make both of you much more comfortable with each other. It will also allow both you and the model to understand what you both are trying out, and a progressive conversation takes place.

Continue this notion of talk even while shooting to guide your model, and as a result, you will be getting some planned shots along with some of the most unexpected yet astonishing portrait photographs.

3. Candid can make you stand out

Candid can make you stand out

While you are on your way to capturing some pre-planned shots that you think are required, you shouldn’t miss out on some random candids. Especially, if you are expressing a smile or fun through your image.

In order to ‘get’ some ravishing and attractive, you can maintain the same emotions on the set as well. For eg, as we were discussing, if you are capturing a fun face make sure the model and everyone on the set is cheerful. On another hand, if you are capturing a neutral, composed, or sad face, we recommend you keep silent on the set.

Moreover, to maintain a set of emotions, you could use music on the set.

4. Allow your model to experiment

Allow your model to experiment - Portrait Photography

If you want to Master Portrait Photography in no time, here is a little secret for you. Let your model experiment with all the key points you have given to him or her. Instead of being whole and sole, let the model be part of the process.

Firstly it will let you know whether he or she has understood your given specifications or not. If not you shall elaborate it more. Also, if the specifications are clear to your model he could contribute some very creative results.

Non the less if you didn’t get any amusing shots from the model, you can always stick to what you were accepted in the first place make sure you have captured them right.

Also Read: Beauty Product Photography Tips & Ideas.

5. Use the right camera and lens

Best Camera Brands for Portrait Photography

No craftsman would ever blame the tool that he is using. Hence, nor should you. There is no camera that can be quoted as the best Self-Portrait Photography camera. To start with you could use a decent DSLR.

Any further results will depend on how you use your camera. We recommend you keep the quality and detail of the image as high as possible. Also, make sure the image is not at all grainy, and the white balance is set according to the scenario you are in.

As per the lens, this would again depend on your choice of photography. If you would like to capture a bit of the landscape, you shall use a wide-angle lens. A telescopic lens of 85mm or 105mm would perfectly set a balance between the background and the model. If you wish to get a complete focus on the model and completely blur the background 70mm-200mm lens.

6. Use lighting to your advantage

Use lighting to your advantage - Portrait Photography

Any professional photographer could tell you how important light is, and obviously, you know it too. But especially in Portrait Photography, the right tone of lighting is very important. If you are capturing a portrait of a family, it would be recommended that you use warm lights.

On another hand, if you are capturing a business portrait using a cold and grey tone would be much better. Other than this, some of the most enduring portraits are captured at the golden hours, i.e., at the time of sunset or sunrise.

7. Experiment with Angles

Best Angle for Portrait Photography

As we said before, in order to stand out you may have to break out some so-called “Rules of Photography”. Among those people who always believe to get a portrait your camera should always be at the eye level of your model.

Well, this isn’t true. You can and must try different angles. This way you can come up with your own creatives and get the best result. Also, varying the angle will allow you to present your model according to you. You can make your model look, tall, short, wide, or thin just varying angles.

8. Add props to add depth

props in Portrait Photography

Another myth-breaking tip is you can use props in your portrait photography. You shall add it or not it completely depends on you, but if you do, keep some things in mind to get a better result.

Your prop should never capture the attention. Moreover, it should just be used to emphasize your actual portrait. Even if you decide to add a prop and can’t find something that compliments your frame, you shall use it to bring depth to your portrait photography.

9. Watch out for the right background

Perfect Background for Portrait Photography

While we are talking about the props and things you could add to your frame, let us also have a look at what’s in the background. The primary focus is your model itself, but a good background will bring the right emotions to your Portrait Photography.

You can’t just overlook your background. Moreover, the right background and the right amount of blur is your recipe to get good best results.

10. Find the right Poses

Right poses for Portrait Photography

This point has come late on the list but surely this is what you have to give your most effort. And this will only come right to you when you get some on-field experience. But for now, you can take one thing from this point. i.e. there are no fixed rules for you.

Work on what you want to achieve, work around it, vary camera angle, chat with the model, and when you hit the right pose, recreate something around it to make sure you don’t miss out.

11. Choose the location

Choose the Perfect Location for Portrait Photography

Location of your surly decide which of the equipment you would have to carry. If you are outdoor, you may have nothing in your control. The lighting weather, streets, background crowd, and anything that is can make your photography hard. 

But after all, this, if you can capture what you want and make the most out of the situation, you will surely find some great and innovative portraits.

On the other hand, if you are indoors, in a studio, you get control of everything. The light equipment, the wind, the background, and anything else that you can think of.

12. Design Color Palette

Design Color Palette

Working with a color palette allows you to set the right tone for your image. You can use the complementing color palette while you are capturing an image or in post-production. It leaves a great impact and makes your image stand out. 

13. Work with Burst-out Shots

Work with Burst-out Shots

Waiting for the right moment is hard. And even when it comes, being able to capture it at the very right moment can be even harder. In portrait photography, that moment is the expression or the pose of your model.

You can’t wait for the perfect smile or the pose in portrait photography, instead, click continuous shots, which will give you multiple options to choose from later. In addition, you may also get some candid which further can be used to evoke the emotions you were trying to express.

14. Observe your taste

Observe your taste

Portrait Photography is all about how you wish to get the result out of your efforts. To master this skill of expressing emotions through image, you need to know where to look. So start observing what kind of images evokes what kind of emotions.

In the subway, in the trains, the art gallery lookout for people, colors, and light that are being used and how you shall use them whenever you require to. Cause chances are your next inspiration would be everywhere around you and you can use it to master portrait photography.

15. Use Shadows

use with shadow in Portrait Photography

It was not long ago when every portrait photographer was illuminated with soft light. And we aren’t denying that you shouldn’t elite the model. But with the new trends slipping in there are many new styles of portrait photography visible on the internet.

You shall use shadows too. After all, they can really add depth and composition to your image. Especially during the time of sunset or sunrise, if used right, shadows can help you get astonishing images.

16. Focus on capturing details

Focus on capturing details

Portrait photography is all about capturing the details. Whether you are planning to shoot indoors or outdoor, even if you are capturing through a phone or a high-end camera, every portrait needs to be sharp and the details should very visible.

With the proper illumination and setting your camera in the right settings, you can achieve a high-quality image and capture all the details right as they are.

17. Build Your Inspiration Gallery

 Build Your Inspiration Gallery

You have followed the tips and now you have mastered Portrait Photography. But what’s next? You need to keep learning and evolving your skills with the new trends. For this, start by collecting every single portrait in your gallery that you like and get inspiration from.

You shall refer them before a shoot or use them to refer to your post-production service. Overall saying if you have your own inspiration gallery, you will never go out of ideas and make your career grow.

Best Camera and lens for portrait photography

Best Camera for portrait photography - Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

When it comes to equipment for portrait photography, your camera and your lens are the most important tools you must invest in.

The best camera for portrait photography currently on the market is the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. It is a full-frame, 30-megapixel sensor that is an industry-leading tool that offers a dynamic range and color depth even at a high IOS setting.

In addition, the size and the handling of the camera are key perk that comes in handy in portrait photography. The images coming out of this amazing camera are sharp, clear and something exactly that you would want out of your hand-held masterpiece.

Now comes the actual “canon” of your camera. The best lenses for portrait photography are Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens, and Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM Lens.

Canon EF 70-200mm is one of the best zoom lenses that will make it easy for you to capture those detailed portrait shots. At the same time, Canon EF 85mm offers versatility. It has the ideal focal length along with a wide aperture.

The average price of a portrait photographer

In the USA, the average cost for a portrait photographer is $150 per hour. It can range from $100 to $500 depending on the skills, experience, deliverables, and location of the shoot.

In terms of pictures, an hour should give you about 40 to 50 images. From which you can pick the best and get them edited.

Hand over to experts!

After sharing all the tips that you need to know to master portrait photography, here is a bonus tip that most photography services are using. And that is handing over your product images or as we have discussed your portrait photography to the portrait retouching services.

This lets you learn and grow your own skill and you get an editorial photo editing service. To learn more about it and get the best photo editing service by Pixelphant subscribe to our e-mail newspaper and get updates on photography, eCommerce, and Dropshipping to grow your business online. We highly recommend reading this blog Fashion Photography Mistake to avoid.

If in case you want to use fashion photo editing, Image Color Correction, Studio Photo Editing, Model Photo Editing, Photo retouching online, and skin retouching, contact us and get it done within 24 hours.

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