Portrait photography tips

When exploring this topic, we noticed that portrait tips and tricks can be divided into a few conditional groups: personal, environmental, and technical.

So let’s start with the person whose photo we plan to make. The recommendations in this group of tips are about the subjects — how they should feel and what they should do to make the final image look natural and emotional.


One of the most important steps before we actually take a photo is to connect with the subject. Help them feel comfortable and relaxed. Get to know them better, find out their preferences and expectations about the upcoming session. Let them open themselves.


Not everyone knows how to pose or can forget about the camera and pose naturally. Help people find the most flattering poses. Don’t be shy to suggest how they should move, where the hands should go, where to gaze, and so on.

Live portraits

Sometimes, most authentic photos are those where people laugh, play, or move. Try to create an atmosphere that will let your subject move freely and capture these spontaneous moments.


It could also be a good idea to use some additional objects when shooting a portrait. This could be a hat, some instrument, flowers, a book, or anything else. Such objects add some context and can say more about the person’s individuality.

Now let’s have a look around and learn some suggestions about the shooting environment and how we can create or make the best out of the location to have a really stunning photo.


When making a photo, try to find the lightning that is most flattering to your subjects. If you are making an outdoor portrait, look for a diffused light, which can usually be found before dawn. Shooting at night requires a powerful flashlight.


A portrait is focused on the person, so avoid busy and cluttered backgrounds that can draw the attention away. Most often it is blurred on portrait photos, however, some backgrounds can help frame the face when used skillfully.

And finally, let’s learn about the so-called “technical” suggestions that cover the most suitable camera settings as well as some editing tips.

Focal length

The focal length is an optical property of a camera lens. Look for a 50 to 85mm focal length. Such lenses most closely depict what we see with our eyes and have low levels of face distortion. Also consider using prime lenses with a fixed focal length instead of zooms, as they provide better sharpness and picture quality.


To help your subject stand out, open the aperture as much as your camera allows. This will create a focus on the face and make the background blurred. Remember about the eyes of your subject, as they attract most of the attention. Set the focus point on them accurately to keep them sharp as well.

Shutter speed

If you are not using a tripod, take care about the shutter speed to make sure the image doesn’t have motion blur. 1/60-1/125s. are considered to be enough for a sharp photo.


Another parameter that can affect the photo is ISO. Minimal ISO means that the final picture won’t be grainy. Higher ISO can be useful when you take a photo in a low-light situation. Don’t be afraid to experiment, start with 400 and go up or down to get the optimal result.


Remember that composition rules also work for a portrait. Don’t place your subject always in the center. Make use of the background as well, leave some air in the photo.


A photo can always be edited later. If you plan to do this, consider shooting in RAW. Thus you will have more processing options and will be able to adjust various settings, like white balance, sharpness, noise reduction, levels, brightness.

You can also try resizing the image to create a better composition or make it black and white to add some drama and reveal unusual textures.

And finally, the most essential photography tip we would like to give you — enjoy the process.