8 Tips to Shoot a Perfect Portrait


As you already know, a portrait is a photograph of a person or group of people. It should capture the personality of a person or people in the photo.

Portraits have changed over time.

In the past, portraits were made just on special occasions, such as weddings or some school events. Today, you can take a portrait whenever you want, without any particular reason to do it.

Also, techniques are improved to perfection, and you can find many rules or tricks on how to capture a perfect portrait. Of course, that depends on the purpose of taking a picture. You can also use Professional Lightroom Presets to improve quality of your portraits.

People might need one for their job application, their web page, the cover of their book, or for no reason at all! In the end, it does not matter, they should have a perfect portrait anyway.

If you are at the very beginning of your photography career or you just want to take perfect portrait photos of your friends and family members, then it is time to read some rules.

There are some basic rules you have to follow, but if you add some creativity on your own, there is no doubt you’ll take perfect portraits!

Depending from your camera, you might want to check out our CanonT7i lenses guide, or in case you own a Nikon camera, guides such as best lenses for Nikon D610 in 2022.

Let’s get started!


Tip #1 – Choose the perfect background

This is rule number one.

It is some kind of preparation for everything that comes later. A first and most common option is to pick a completely neutral, one-colored background, so it doesn’t distract viewers from your portrait subject.

This also looks very professional if a portrait is meant to be a job application photo. The second option is to put some object in the background, but it has to make sense.

For example, if you are shooting a musician, his instrument should be in the background. Or, if you are shooting a sailor, his boat would be a great detail in the background.

You have to accept that sometimes you won’t have the possibility of choosing a background: you will have to do your best in the conditions you already have.


Tip #2 – Prepare your subject for shooting

Mostly, you won’t be able to choose models, but you can influence how they feel.

This is an essential step, and we can’t stress it out enough. The quality of your photo depends more on the mood of your model than the performances of your camera.

The subject has to be relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera. Make small talk and break the ice.

Only a relaxed model is a good model because you can see it in the picture if the model feels unnatural.


Tip #3 – Strike a pose!

Posing is a significant part of every shooting, but you can not follow one rule because every person is unique, and every photoshoot is special.

The universal law is this: pose should look natural. You should find a position that will look good, based on the model and the ambiance.

You can also experiment with the perspectives: take a shoot from a very low or very high place. From experience, people feel the most comfortable while sitting.

Also, they should lean towards the camera for a more engaging position.

In conclusion, you should try more positions and angles until you find the best one.


Tip #4 – Increase your ISO

This is a piece of advice for those with professional cameras.

This is something you have to do; otherwise, you’ll be losing your nerves because of blurry photos. As you know, they are completely useless!

Let’s be honest – no matter how professional the model is, there will always be blinking, spontaneous moving, and changing facial expressions.

That is a nightmare for every photographer because nobody likes half-closed eyes or a gurning face.

To avoid these problems and save some nerves, you should use fast shutter speed, for sure.

Tip #5 – Pay attention to light

The natural daylight is the most popular type of light, but this rule is not always applicable.

For example, you don’t want direct sunlight while shooting, so you have to look for a shadow in moments like that.

On the other side, sunrise and sunset (especially sunrise) are a great time of the day for making good photos. Sunlight is not too strong, and some interesting shadows will help you.

You can use natural sunlight even while taking a photo indoor if you position a subject near the window. Besides this, using a reflector is an affordable and easy way to brighten up your portraits.

You can use them indoor and outdoor, and they will be very helpful!


Tip #6 – Change your perspective

It is an unwritten rule that you take a portrait with the camera at the eye level of your model.

It seems like the most logical solution for sure, but it does not mean it is the only one!

Sometimes, if you want to make remarkable photos, you have to think outside the box

. Take a portrait from above or lay down on the ground while taking it – you’ll be surprised what effect a different perspective might have to your photos.


Tip #7 – Get close up

Most of the portraits are pictures of the whole body, or, at least, entire face.

But sometimes it is the right decision to leave something to the imagination of the viewer. Just one or a few body parts might intrigue more than seeing a whole subject.

For example, shooting only eyes, lips, one side of the face, or even some lower body part could be the cat’s whisker.

This is a type of taking pictures that you will apply to some more artistic portraits, where you have more space to show your creativity.


Tip #8 – Encourage your model to show emotions

Being in some exactly specified pose might seem unnatural and affected. Since that is something, you want to avoid, encourage your model to be more spontaneous and candid.

For example, catch them looking off-camera, capture their involuntary smile or wrinkles on their face.

Sometimes perfection is in small imperfections.


Wrapping Up

We hope that these pieces of advice will be useful for your next photo shoot. Follow the rules and make some new ones, that is a winning combination!

Check out our buying guide section to read Nikon D3200 lenses guide and many more.

8 Tips to Shoot a Perfect Portrait
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8 Tips to Shoot a Perfect Portrait
Improve your portrait photography skills by reading this guide where we relieved 8 secret tips & tricks for better photos.
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