Top 10 Portrait Photography Tips Every Photographer Should Know

Top 10 Photography Tips

If you are a portrait photographer, then you must be aware of certain portrait photography tips that help you to capture better portrait images.

The technical definition of portrait photography can be said to be capturing the subject in a frame. However, the essence of portrait photography goes quite beyond this simple definition. Portrait photography includes capturing the emotions of the subject with the lens. Previously great artists used to paint the portraits of individuals. With the emergence of technology now portraits can be created with cameras. However, the basic essence remains the same.

Whether it is a wedding portrait or a family portrait, you need the same kind of perseverance and skills. Clicking a portrait with a camera is an art as the picture has to give away the emotions of the individual who has been clicked. It is almost like making a picture speak. Without the proper essence, portrait photography turns into a failure. This is why it is important to follow certain rules while expecting the best result.

Here are few portrait photography tips to help you better understand the process of clicking stunning portraits.

(1) Get the basics done

Getting the basic settings done
Get the basic camera setting done like lighting, background, compositions etc.

The first thing that you need to keep in mind while capturing a portrait is that here you have to mix technique with art. You have to manage the camera compositions, setting, lighting, and background while making sure that the subject is captured in all his emotions and feelings. You can get creative with your shots, but you have to keep the basic things in mind.

(2) Keep your subject in focus

Photographer Speaking to the Subject
Making the subject comfortable before shoot

You must keep in mind that your subject is to remain in the prime of focus when you are doing a portrait. Therefore, you have to make sure that the subject you are clicking is comfortable with you. It is better if you meet the subject beforehand to create a rapport with him. You should make him understand your style of work and also ask for his suggestions. Making your subject comfortable while shooting portraits is very important as otherwise the essence of the pictures will be lost.

(3) Decide on the pose

Deciding the pose for portrait
Deciding the poses which will match the overall set up

Selecting the right pose for your subject can prove to be a challenging task. You have to search for poses that will complement the features of your subject. Moreover, the selected pose will have to gel well with the available light and selected location. You can try out various poses with your subject and select the one that looks best. You should also have an idea about which profile of your subject looks better and then suggest the poses based on that.

(4) Choose the location

Selecting a location
Selecting a perfect location plays a big role

Location plays an important role in capturing successful portrait shots. You can discuss this topic with your subject to ensure that you select a spot where both of you will be comfortable. Other matters to consider while selecting a location is the availability of light, space, background, etc. The location will prove to be a contributing factor to the essence of the photograph, and thus you should be very careful while choosing it.

(5) Click the expressions and emotions

Natural smile
Asking your subject to be as natural as possible

Portraits are all about bringing out the emotions and essence of the subject. A portrait photograph should be able to speak. However, getting your subject all emotive is quite a difficult thing to do. You must avoid clicking fake smiles or blank stares. They would ruin the purpose of the portrait and make it appear artificial. You should ask your subject to be as natural as possible and then click.

(6) Capture candid shots

Candid moments
Sometimes candid brings in a sense of realism

Many subjects get uncomfortable while posing. This especially happens with people who do not shoot regularly. When such people are asked to pose, they appear very animated and artificial. In such cases you should focus on clicking candid shots. You can ask your subject to just remain normal and click him in moments you think that bring out the best emotions.

(7) Use props

Portrait of a women with a laptop as a prop
Adding a prop can give a creative output

You can choose to use props in your portrait clicks to enhance the appeal of the picture. A particular kind of prop can add extra depth to a portrait photo. It can add vibrancy and color to the photo and set a whole new mood. If you like to experiment with your clicks then using props will be a good idea. Make sure to select props that go will the background color. Also make sure that the prop you are using is not creating any discomfort to your subject.

(8) Experiment with various angles

Portrait with different angels
You bring out the best when you try different angles

Most of the portrait images are clicked in a way that puts the focus in the eyes. The effect is stunning and looks great. However, you can experiment with different angles as well. You might click your subject from a higher level. You can also choose from a position that is shallow and get as close to the subject as possible. This will add lots of variety to your images and will make them creative.

(9) Use the back and white filter

Black & white portrait
Black & white distills the essence and emotion of your subject

Shooting a portrait in black and white gives a more intimate picture. The features of the subject are more highlighted in the black and white filter, and thus it looks great. There remains no additional color to distract the focus from the subject, and this creates an intense photograph with the focus being completely on the person being clicked.

(10) Click multiple shots

Photographer selecting the best portrait
Shoot multiple to choose the best

While clicking a portrait image, you should make it a point to click one after another shot. You should click continuous shots of your subject to avail a number of images. Later, you can present these shots one after another, and they will have a dramatic effect. It will also give you the opportunity to pick the one that has been clicked best.


Portrait photography requires a lot of practice and patience. You cannot expect your first portrait to be of great quality. However, with continuous practice and understanding of camera and lenses, your skills will gradually improve.

What is your take on portrait photography? Do let me know by commenting below.

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