Shooting People – Portrait Photography

portrait photography

Portrait Photography, also known as portraiture, is the photograph of a person or a group of people. Portrait Photography is a vast art. It is so much more than just taking pictures of people. You have to capture more than their faces. The best portrait photographs capture the essence of the subject, their emotions, their personality, the context in which the picture is being taken. The best portrait photographs only have faces in them but tell brilliant stories. As they say, “a picture worth a thousand words” – and the best portrait photographs are worth way more than that. All this is done by using the right kind of lighting, a play on shadows, backdrops and flattering poses. Portraits aren’t just for the purpose of vanity, a role which portrait paintings played greatly in the past. These days, portraits are used for a variety of reasons – identification, website display; social media display pictures, and various other purposes.

Tips and Tricks:

Portrait Photography tricks are not all complicated or external, some of them are as internal as your camera –a few tweaks to the settings and your portrait photographs will become 10 times better. But that isn’t all there is to it. Taking picture of people is probably the toughest type of photography there is. It is very tricky to get everyone in a group of people to “stay still and look into the camera, please.”

Here are few tips that will take your portrait photographs from amateur to professional in no time.

Exposure Compensation – Why Use It:

One of the biggest problems of shooting portrait photographs with light tones and colors is under-exposure. An advanced digital camera has a lot of great options and settings. Exposure compensation is one of them. Use it when you are dealing with a lot white or light colors in the shot. Weddings, where the brides are in white and the bridesmaid might be in light pastels; this will come in very handy.

Lens Choice:

The best photograph is only as good as the lens used by the photographer. There are a variety of lenses available in the market and most of them are made for specific purposes. You need to research and know the lens type that you’ll need to capture the kind of portrait photograph that you’ve imagined. A wide angle lens will show a lot of the subject’s background in the photograph whereas a telephoto lens will keep the focus on the subject by not taking in a lot of background.

Aperture, Depth of Field and Shutter Speed:

Depth of field implies how much of the surroundings of the subject are kept sharp. The best portrait photographs are the ones where the focus is kept in the subject by making the background soft and blurry. This can be done by tweaking the aperture settings. The best tip anyone can give you is to keep your camera settings on Aperture Priority to control depth of field – where your camera will automatically set shutter speed for optimum exposure.

In addition to understanding and controlling aperture, you also need to understand shutter speed and why it is necessary. We’ve all seen photographs where the subject is a blur even with minimal movement and also photographs where the subject was moving at a good speed and still is in sharp focus. The reason is shutter speed! With slower shutter speed, even a little camera shake will make your photographs come out blurry. But set the shutter speed keeping in mind your subject, and your portrait photographs are sure to turn out perfect.

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Portrait Photography Styles:

Portrait photography is such a vast art and has a vast list of styles. There are as many styles as there are portrait photographers. But with any art, some techniques are constant classics. Below we’ll be mentioning some of the portrait photography styles which are true classics.

Classic Portrait:

The most classic and traditional style of portrait photography is one in which the face of the subject is the predominant element in the photograph. Normally called “head shots”, such photographs might also feature a third of the subject’s body.

Candid Portrait:

A style trend that has been around for some time and is much loved is candid portrait photography. In this style, the subject is unaware of the camera pointing at them or simply don’t acknowledge the photographer. Such photographs are captured in the moment and make for great memorable moments.

Conceptual Portrait:

Another style of portrait photography is conceptual portraits where some concept is used to add depth and a sort of fourth dimension to the portrait. There is always some hidden meaning in this style of portrait which only the photographer might know.

Glamor Portrait:

A very famous and much used style of portraits is a glamor portrait. This style is typically used in magazines and advertisements and the objective of a glamor portrait is to showcase the sex appeal of the subject.

Best Poses for Portrait Photographs:

There are some poses which are as natural to any person sitting in front of a camera as breathing. But then there are poses which make your portrait photographers feel unique and give them a fresh look.

Grab a Prop:

A trend these days is to pose for portrait photographs with a prop in hand. The props are usually cardboard cutouts but can really be anything – a phone, sunglasses, a handbag, shoes, juice maker, anything that you can get your hands on. So grab a prop to give your portrait photographs a unique look.

Walk Away:

A portrait photograph can be made unique by doing a walking away pose. You simply walk away from the camera, or you could turn around and look over your shoulder. Such a portrait photograph works to show a whole different side of you!


Yes, a smile is a pose! Although a portrait with a brooding expression on the subject’s face might seem like a great idea, but smiling is a great way to enhance facial features and lighten up your face immediately. It completely transforms you and makes you look healthier, brighter and much more fun in the portrait photograph.

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