Last updated on December 6th, 2023
There’s a lot to learn about portrait photography. Being a photographer, I understand the skills I need to become a professional portrait photographer. Whether you are going to be running a business or if you are capturing your own family members or friends. If you are an amateur, looking to turn your past-time into a professional career. It is important to learn the basics of the art of portrait photography.
The basics of portrait photography
Portrait photography is the photography of a person as a subject. An example might be headshots for business or school portraits. Portrait photography is not simple. There is so much to convey in one photo of a person or a group of people. It begins with using the right camera, lenses, backdrops or locations. Then, it comes down to posing and lighting. Then, you’re going to edit your photos in Photoshop and Lightroom.
Sure, you get the concept of portrait photography. But how do you capture the best portrait? You want to get the heart and soul of your portrait subject. Read these portrait photography tips. You can start capturing the best of your portrait subjects:
1. Check your camera settings
Do you have your camera settings ready to go to take the best photos? Your DSLR camera has so many options. You want to make sure your shutter speed, exposure, aperture, ISO, and lenses are all set.
First, check exposure and composition. You want to have the correct amount of brightness. Try using reflectors so you achieve the right amount.
2. Have poses in mind
Your portrait subject might be shy or uncomfortable in front of the camera. You want to make sure they’re relaxed and have great chemistry with the camera. Shyness is a tough challenge you will likely see with your subjects.
Chose poses that bring out the best in your model. You want their character to shine through. Ask them about their favorite hobbies or anywhere they’ve vacationed. You want them to open up to you and forget the camera is there. Make then feel comfortable when you pose them, that way your pictures show for it. Kids are often the easier subject as they’re more open. Often with adults, you will need to work different in this case. It may be a harder challenge. So, try your best to communicate well with your subject.
3. Don’t be afraid to use props during portrait photography
You’ll often encounter nervous models. You want ease and the subject’s happy character to shine through the camera. Yet, they might be afraid of ruining the photo or be anxious. That’s where props come in. It might be a pen and paper, a laptop, coffee much, toys, or whatever fits the photoshoot. You want it to serve as a distraction from the camera.
4. It’s all about the angles
The way you angle your camera for portrait shots can make or break your photo. Much like many other types of photography. Always consider the lighting as the number one factor. This is true when choosing which angle to shoot your portrait from. Adjust according to the way the light is flowing.
For snapping photos of kids, get down on your knees so you’re at the same level. And then work around different angles. Always work from different angles when shooting your subject. You get your best shot out of many tries. Find an angle to frame the portrait. That way, you will have your subject in the middle of the frame and your model will serve as the primary focus.
5. Wardrobe and environmental factors
Depending on your subject, you may want a few different environmental backgrounds. This is especially true for family or bridal photoshoots. You will want to take as many shots at different angles in each environment.
Your clients will have the option of changing their clothes. This may be depending on the environment. Be sure to tell them ahead of time before the shoot. You may also want to suggest what to wear if it is not a bridal shoot. Be the expert for your portrait photography session. Try to get as much variety as possible out of the photoshoot.
6. Keep the kids occupied
As I’ve stated before, it’s good to have a distraction during a portrait session. This is especially true for children’s portrait photography. You know this already, but kids like to move around. Ask the parents ahead of time to bring an activity like a board game or a mobile toy. You can snap incredible portrait shots as your subject engages with his or her parents.
7. Use an assistant photographer
A second-shooter is often common for portrait photography sessions on the go. There are many moving parts to a portrait photography session. And there are many environmental factors. There are also distractions during any type of photography session.
Having a second hand nearby is going to make your portrait photography session easier for you. You will get the right lighting, the right settings, and the right shots. You want your assistant to hold up reflectors, move the lights, or check other factors while trying to keep your subject happy. You’ll also have a second opinion for posing and the environment you’re shooting in.
8. Always edit your portrait photography
Your portrait photography session is not done as soon as you click the camera off. You want to get many shots in the session, then edit them in Photoshop and Lightroom. Always edit the photos before sending the finals off to your clients.
9. Remember to share ideas
Whether you are a novice or an expert. You should always be networking with other photographers. Plan meetups or look on social media for nearby meetups for photographers. Look at their work, share some advice, and take the advice of others. This is especially important for portrait photography. You want to see the different perspectives of other human beings in the same business. It’s also important to look at blogs and other sources or inspiration. Remember, we all begin somewhere!