Beginner’s Guide to Portrait Photography: Expert Tips

Beginner's Guide to Portrait Photography: Expert Tips

Creative Online School

Last Updated on October 2, 2023 by GeeksGod

Course : Portrait Photography for Absolute Beginners

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Welcome to this comprehensive guide on portrait photography for beginners. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know to improve your portrait photography skills. Whether you’re a beginner just starting out or an experienced photographer looking to refine your techniques, this guide has got you covered.

Why Learn Portrait Photography?

Portrait photography is a popular genre that allows photographers to capture the unique personality and essence of their subjects. Whether you’re capturing portraits of family, friends, or clients, mastering the art of portrait photography can make a huge difference in the overall quality of your images. It’s a skill that can open up new opportunities and help you stand out as a photographer.

What Makes a Portrait Look Great?

Before we dive into the technical aspects of portrait photography, it’s important to understand what makes a portrait truly great. A great portrait goes beyond just capturing a person’s likeness. It tells a story, evokes emotions, and captures the essence of the subject. To create such portraits, you need to master various elements such as lighting, composition, posing, and creating a connection with your subject.

Recommended Equipment for Better Portraits

To capture stunning portraits, you’ll need the right equipment. While you can achieve great results with basic equipment, having the right tools can take your portraits to the next level. Here are some essential pieces of equipment you should consider:

  • A camera: While any camera can capture a portrait, a DSLR or mirrorless camera gives you more control over your settings and allows you to achieve professional-quality results.
  • Portrait lens: A portrait lens with a focal length between 50mm and 85mm is ideal for capturing flattering portraits. These lenses create a beautiful background blur and produce sharp images.
  • External flash: While natural light can be great for portraits, having an external flash can help you control the lighting and fill in shadows.
  • Tripod: A tripod can be useful when shooting portraits to ensure stability and reduce camera shake.

Compositional Techniques for Cool Portraits

Composition plays a vital role in creating visually appealing portraits. By following some composition techniques, you can make your portraits stand out. Here are a few tips:

  • Rule of thirds: Divide the frame into thirds both horizontally and vertically, and place the main subject along these lines or at their intersection points.
  • Leading lines: Use leading lines like roads, walls, or fences to draw the viewer’s eyes towards the subject.
  • Frame within a frame: Use natural or man-made objects to create a frame within the frame, directing the focus towards the subject.
  • Simplify the background: Make sure the background doesn’t distract from the main subject. Use shallow depth of field or choose a clean, uncluttered background.

Tips for Better Backgrounds in Portraits

The background plays a crucial role in enhancing the overall impact of a portrait. Here are some tips to create better backgrounds:

  • Choose a simple background: A simple, uncluttered background helps keep the focus on the subject.
  • Use natural backgrounds: Incorporating natural elements like trees, flowers, or landscapes can add depth and interest to your portraits.
  • Create bokeh: Use a wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field, resulting in a blurred background known as bokeh. This technique can help isolate the subject and make them stand out.
  • Experiment with different angles: Change your shooting position and perspective to find unique angles that add interest to the background.

Lighting Skills for Amazing Portraits

Lighting is one of the most critical aspects of portrait photography. It can make or break your images. Here are some lighting skills you should master:

  • Natural light: Learn to observe and use natural light to your advantage. The golden hour, which occurs during the first and last hours of sunlight, provides soft, warm light that can enhance your portraits.
  • Artificial light: Experiment with artificial lighting sources like flash or continuous lights to create different moods and effects.
  • Light modifiers: Use light modifiers such as reflectors, diffusers, and umbrellas to control and shape the light according to your requirements.
  • Rembrandt lighting: This classic lighting technique creates a triangle-shaped light under the subject’s eye, adding depth and dimension to the portrait.

Bokeh and Blur in Portraits

Creating bokeh and blur in portraits can add a touch of magic and aesthetic appeal to your images. Here are a few techniques to achieve this effect:

  • Use a wide aperture: A wide aperture like f/1.8 or f/2.8 helps create a shallow depth of field, resulting in a blurred background.
  • Distance between subject and background: Increase the distance between your subject and the background to accentuate the blur.
  • Use a longer focal length: A longer focal length lens, like an 85mm or 100mm, can help create a more pronounced background blur.

Example of Poses for Better Portraits

Posing your subjects can have a significant impact on the overall look and feel of your portraits. Here are some popular poses you can try:

  • Headshot: A classic and straightforward pose where the subject’s face is the main focus.
  • Profile: Position the subject’s face at a slight angle to the camera to create a more dynamic and engaging portrait.
  • Three-quarters pose: This pose involves having the subject turn their body slightly away from the camera while still facing it.
  • Sitting pose: Ask your subject to sit naturally, with their hands and body positioned in a relaxed and comfortable manner.

Tips for Child Portraits

Photographing children can be both challenging and rewarding. Here are some tips to capture beautiful child portraits:

  • Focus on their eyes: Children’s eyes can be incredibly expressive. Make sure to focus on their eyes to capture their natural innocence and curiosity.
  • Play and interact: Engage with children during the photoshoot to make them feel comfortable and capture their genuine emotions and expressions.
  • Choose the right location: Select a location where children can be themselves and have fun, such as a park or playground.
  • Use props and toys: Incorporate props and toys that are meaningful to the child to add a personal touch to the portraits.

Tips for Corporate Portraits and Headshots

Corporate portraits and headshots are often used for professional purposes. Here are some tips for capturing impactful corporate portraits:

  • Dress code and background: Make sure the subject is dressed appropriately for their profession, and choose a background that reflects their industry.
  • Pose with confidence: Guide your subject to strike poses that exude confidence and professionalism.
  • Lighting: Use soft, diffused lighting to create a flattering and professional look.
  • Attention to detail: Pay attention to small details like grooming, accessories, and posture to ensure a polished final result.

Tips for Wedding and Event Portraits

Weddings and events are special occasions that require capturing beautiful portraits. Here are some tips to help you capture stunning wedding and event portraits:

  • Be prepared: Familiarize yourself with the event schedule and understand the key moments you need to capture.
  • Scout the location: Visit the venue beforehand to identify the best spots for portraits and determine the lighting conditions.
  • Capture candid moments: While posed portraits are essential, don’t forget to capture spontaneous and candid moments that reflect the emotions of the occasion.
  • Direct the subjects: Guide the couple or event attendees to ensure they are comfortable and positioned in the most flattering way.

Tips for Indoor Portraits

Indoor portraits offer a controlled environment where you have full control over the lighting and other factors. Here are some tips for capturing stunning indoor portraits:

  • Use natural light: Position your subject near a window where the soft, diffused light can beautifully illuminate their face.
  • Experiment with artificial lighting: If natural light is not sufficient, experiment with artificial lighting sources like softboxes or continuous lights.
  • Consider the background: Pay attention to the background and ensure it complements the subject without distracting from them.
  • Use props and furniture: Incorporate interesting props and furniture to add depth and visual interest to your indoor portraits.

Tips for Outdoor Portraits

Outdoor portraits offer a wide range of natural lighting conditions and stunning backgrounds. Here are some tips for capturing captivating outdoor portraits:

  • Golden hour: Shoot during the golden hour, which occurs during the first and last hours of sunlight, to benefit from soft, warm light.
  • Consider the weather: Take advantage of different weather conditions like rain, fog, or snow to create unique and atmospheric portraits.
  • Find interesting locations: Scout for locations with unique landscapes, architecture, or natural elements that can enhance your outdoor portraits.
  • Use reflectors: Use reflectors to bounce light into the subject’s face and reduce harsh shadows caused by direct sunlight.


Congratulations! You have now reached the end of this comprehensive guide on portrait photography for beginners. We hope you have gained valuable insights and techniques to improve your portrait photography skills. Remember, practice makes perfect, so grab your camera, experiment with different techniques, and keep honing your craft. With time and dedication, you will be able to capture stunning and impactful portraits that truly stand out.

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About the Author

John Smith is an experienced portrait photographer with years of experience in capturing stunning portraits. He has taught numerous workshops and courses on portrait photography, helping aspiring photographers improve their skills. Through his passion for photography and teaching, John encourages others to explore their creativity and express themselves through the art of portrait photography.

Udemy Coupon :


What you will learn :

1. Will learn basic and advanced topics of amazing portraits
2. Will learn compositional techniques of cool portraits
3. Will learn how to create bokeh and blur effect
4. Will learn advanced lighting skills of portratis
5. Will learn to shoot amazing corporate head shots
6. Will learn tips and tricks for Indoor Portraits
7. Will learn tips and tricks for Outdoor Portraits

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