A Guide to Portrait Photography

There are many different ways to approach photography, and many reasons to get behind a camera. Stunning landscapes, city skylines, delicious food — all are worthy of a good photo. But perhaps the most interesting subject of photography is other people.

Portrait photography focuses on human subjects. Ever since photography was invented, it’s been used in this way — to capture human faces, emotions, and moments. It’s no less popular today. 

This article will look into portrait photography, when it’s used, and how to make sure you get it just right.


When Do You Use Portrait Photography?

There’s an almost endless list of situations where portrait photography can play a role. Here are some of the most common examples:


The list goes on… even criminal mugshots are a form of portrait photography! With so many different uses, it’s important to understand how this type of photography works and how you can ensure you get the best photos.


How To Do Portrait Photography Right

Portrait photography can be a tricky business. Unlike more fixed subjects like natural scenery and architecture, people are fickle. Capturing your subject in exactly the right way requires skill, patience, great communication skills, and a whole host of other factors.

Here are some best practices for taking the perfect portrait photo.

Talk To Your Subject

When taking a portrait photograph, you should be trying to capture something unique, something that can never be replicated. You need to talk to your subject and find out what they want to show in their photo. What will it be used for — a treasured family memory, a new LinkedIn profile photo, an album cover? These will all require a very different approach.

Use The Right Background And Lighting

The elements surrounding your subject are just as important as the subject themselves when it comes to taking a successful photo. Even subtle differences can have a major impact on the end result and significantly change the tone and mood of the photo

Instruct Your Subject Into The Right Poses

It’s important to be gentle, clear, and straightforward — guiding your subject into exactly the right pose. This can be very difficult for an amateur since much of the time your subject will have little experience with being photographed and will need constant guidance. You’ll also need to be able to visualise exactly where your subject should be and know how to get them into those positions.

Know How To Use Your Equipment

Things like tripods, lenses, a camera, and lighting are just some of the equipment you’ll need to take a successful portrait photograph. On top of actually acquiring this gear, you’ll also need to learn how to use it properly. Modern photography equipment can be incredibly complex with countless settings and features, and you’ll need a solid understanding of this to take consistently good photos.


Why Should You Use a Professional?

Portrait photography can be done by an amateur, but when the stakes are high and the event is important, it’s always best to work with a seasoned pro.

A professional will know all the intricacies of portrait photography that take years to learn. They can talk your subjects through the process, have access to the best equipment and training, and know just how to capture exactly the mood you want.

I’ve been taking portrait photographs for a range of different situations for many years. Get in touch to find out how I can help you.