10 Tips For Better Portrait Photography

Portrait photography is an art form, but that doesn’t mean that there’s a little bit of science to it. There are tricks and tips you can learn and new techniques to try that will take your existing work and level it up.

As with most creative arts, there are rules to portrait photography that it’s a good idea to learn and to follow. This won’t take away from your creativity as a photographer, but it will give your work a professional sheen that people will be willing to pay extra for. You can break the rules, but you need to know them first.

Portrait Photography

And so, with that in mind, in this article, we’ve gathered nine of our top tips for taking quality portrait photography. Let’s get started.

1. Lighting

Lighting is arguably the single most important factor when it comes to photography. Natural light is usually the best for portrait photography, but it can’t always be relied upon and so it’s also a good idea to have an artificial lighting setup in your studio. Experiment with different poses and positions to see what works best for your subject and the conditions on the day of the shoot.

2. Background

The background of your photo makes a huge difference to its overall composition. With portrait photography, the goal should be to use softer, plainer backgrounds to make sure that the focus of the photo is the person’s face and not whatever they’re standing in front of.

3. Focus

Most modern cameras automatically focus on the subject when they’re taking a photo, but that doesn’t mean you should rely on it. Manual focusing is almost always better, but either way, you’ll want to double check that the shot is in focus before you snap the shutter.

4. Subject

Get to know your subject before you start taking photographs to put them at ease and to come up with ideas on how best to reflect their personality in the photographs. For example, if you learn they’re in the middle of writing a college paper, ask them questions about the subject matter and how far they’re into the dissertation writing.

5. Wardrobe

Another great way to change the look and feel of your photographs is to think about wardrobe, makeup and other visual tricks that can change the way that your subject looks. It’s a good idea to keep some basics on hand in your studio. Even a change of shirt can come in handy.

6. Angles

Most photographers take portrait photographs from directly in front at head height, but it can be worth experimenting with different angles and seeing what the results are like. Shooting from low, high or to the side can create interesting shadows and unexpected highlights.

7. Poses

You can also experiment by adjusting your subjects’ poses. If it’s just one person, you could ask them to cross their arms or to stand sideways. If you’re photographing a group, you can position them in ways that highlight the interplays between them. Perhaps the oldest child could hold his baby sister, for example.

8. Apertures

Changing your aperture settings can highlight the foreground and blur the background, especially with a wider aperture. This can help to ensure that the right amount of emphasis is being placed upon the subject.

9. Keep shooting

The more photographs you take, the more likely you are to capture something special. The best portrait photographers take dozens or hundreds of shots for every subject, often varying some of the factors we’ve mentioned in this list, thus allowing them to pick only the best shots to deliver to their clients.

10. Photo Editing

Don’t forget to enhance your photos in Lightroom or Photoshop. You should do photo culling, color correction, apply filters, retouch face/body skin, remove stray hair, make teeth white and eyes bright, smoothen cloths, fix background, remove skinblemishes or other defects, etc. If you don’t have time for these things, outsource you photos to portrait retouching services that will do everything instead of you for about $5 per image.


Every photographer uses a different set of tools and techniques, and that’s what makes one person’s work different from another’s. The key is to find out what works for you and to go ahead and put it into practice. With a bit of luck, the tips in this article have helped you to get off to a good start. Good luck!

Looking for more photography tips? Check out these tips for better night sky photography.

Watch this space for regular updates in the Photography category on Running Wolf’s Rant.

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Lauren Adley

I'm a writer and editor at Essay Writing Land. I'm dedicated to my family, work, and friends. I'm keen on reading, playing the guitar, and traveling. I'm interested in educational, marketing, and blogging issues.

This Post Has 2 Comments

    1. Henno Kruger

      My pleasure Aaron 🙂

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