It is not difficult to learn the art of taking sharp portrait photographs. There are just a few things to remember when learning about portrait photography. Everyone will seem to give you their version of the best portrait photography tips, but at the end of the day experimenting yourself will be the key to your success.

Photography is not about going to university or learning out of a text book. You actually have to take the bull by the horns and get stuck in yourself. This is what makes a true photographer. Don't say "that's not going to work", because it may be the best shot and it may be the worst, but this is all about experimenting.

portrait photography of child


This doesn’t mean that the gaze should be staring right at you like it was all set up. There are two ways to go about this. You could have your subject looking away and focusing their attention on something else.

This will create a good candid shot and will also draw in some of the emotion. If you have your subject looking at something else within a frame you will be creating a kind of story in the process. The eyes really tell you a lot. This is where all the emotion is and a great shot comes from how that is expressed.

Candid portrait photography tips

These are my favorite kind of shots to work with because it can tell you so much about a person or the situation. A posed shot can sometimes look a little pretentious and many people look better in candid photographs. You should make your subject feel as comfortable as possible.

Using a longer zoom lens might help in this case. Practice walking up a street, or sitting in a restaurant, taking random shots of different people. Obviously the major problem is taking pictures of people without them being aware so you have to find tips and tricks of hiding behind a bush or something.

I good way to start off with this is to ask one of your close friends or family members for help. Ask them out for a meal at a restaurant, and then start clicking away. Most people who know the person at the other end of the lens won't feel too uncomfortable.

Here, you can experiment with the subject talking, eating, sitting in different ways. Get him or her to read a book or write something.  You could use black and white photography, adjusting your lenses at the same time.

Lighting for Portrait Photography

By using lighting you will not only be creating dramatic effects, but the moods of the portraits will change. You can even get rid of some of their features with backlighting, but bringing out features is also important. For an old person you want to emphasize the wrinkles and tired look on the face.

If the sun is shining towards the subject, then you may have to under expose slightly. This will set the background and the subject apart, with the help of the flash, set properly.

Experiment with backgrounds

Some backgrounds will bring out the subject more than others. Sometimes a colourful background will work best, but in other cases you will want something basic. You will obviously want the main focus to be the subject and not the background.

Using lines for a background is another professional portrait photography tip that is stressed. Make sure you fill the frame as much as possible.

Digital portrait photography tips and movement

Digital photography now allow for more variations. Movement is one thing that can be achieved by moving the camera whilst you are shooting or using a slow enough shutter speed. This is called panning and works very well, giving the right sort of effects. Some parts of your subject will be blurred suggesting they are moving. This looks good in a busy street scene or with a sports image.

Don’t be shy!

This is where most of us come unstuck.  It is only natural, but it is the greatest obstacle, so you have to take the courage to take the first leap. The difference between a good photo and great photo is often defined in how bold the photographer is.

Getting up close to the subject is important because you will be able to capture relationships between people. Generally people are happy for you to have their photo taken.


candid shots

Anticipating Behavior

Always be on the watch for people and have your camera ready to shoot. This is where a pocket camera is handy, but it won't give you the same kind of effects that a DSLR would.

Start on something basic until you get the technique right. Keep an eye through your viewfinder. If you know something is going to happen at a particular spot then set your camera beforehand so you don’t have to worry about the setting prior to shooting.

Studio portrait photography tips

It’s your job to make your subject feel relaxed. Keep talking to them so they don’t feel self-conscious. Choose a good viewpoint, bringing out their best features. Natural sunlight works well, lighting up half of the face. Focus on the eyes and don’t forget about the hands.



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