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How to Take Portrait Photos - Photography Tips & Tutorials

Updated on December 22, 2010
Digital Portrait Photography Tips
Digital Portrait Photography Tips

Here are some digital photography tips and how to take portrait photos and become a professional portrait photographer. Portrait photos are one of the most demanding types of photos. Portrait photos make your subject good and also bring out its personality. Taking portrait photos is an art that require some practices and skills. It is not necessary to be a professional photographer to take some captive portrait photos. By following certain portrait photography tips or portrait photography tutorials, you can take good quality portrait photos easily.

Types of Portrait Photography - There are generally three types of portrait photos - Facial Shots or Close-Ups, Upper Body Portrait Photography and Environmental Portrait Photography. The first type of portrait photography is used to take baby portrait photography, children portrait photography, self portrait photography, and family portrait photography. The main idea of a portrait photo is to capture the essence of the subject. To capture expression or glamour, you can use close-up shots. Give attention to angle of head and position of hands. 

Tips for Taking Portrait Photos

Lighting – In portrait photography, lighting from a good angle is important in such shots. Natural lighting can effectively capture full color variety and warmth of object. Lighting from the top or side can easily capture the small details of the face. It is good to take portrait photos outdoor using day lighting. If you want to take flattering pictures, cloudy day lighting is ideal.

Background - You can easily take upper-body portrait shots by including backgrounds. It is good to choose a neutral background that does not catch attention. As the importance is to the object, you should blur the background further. Using a zoom lens or taking shots from short distances will help you to achieve this. You can also use latest photo processing tricks to blur the background. Environmental portrait photos provide real insight to your subject’s lifestyle. Choosing the right location is important in it. It is good to avoid cluttered backgrounds and foregrounds and bright colors. Try to shoot with wider focal lengths.

Varied Poses - It is important to catch the subject personality in the photos. The more relaxed the subject is, the more you can get a natural expression in the portrait. Taking portrait photos of children can be little harder. You can get good gestures by giving them a coloring book or candy. Talk to your models and get them laughing and relaxed. This will help you to take authentic portrait photos. When you are taking a group portrait photo, try varied poses such as some standing or some looking to side and more poses. Position the group within the maximum flash range. Plain backgrounds are suitable for group portrait photos.

Position, Framing, and Camera Settings - When taking portrait photos, you can try out with different poses and framing. Position your subject by giving them more space to look into will add natural touch to your work. Portrait photographing from different angles can produce eye-catching shots. Use framing and maximum focus should be given to the subject. You can also shot creative self-portraits. For taking self-portraits, use your digital camera’s self timers or close-up mode. Use wide angle portion of your camera to take self portrait photos.

Sometimes you can get a great portrait photo by taking many shots. You can also try various photo settings including white balance settings, exposures, lighting, object position and many more to take a best portrait photo.


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    • Johan Smulders profile image

      Johan Smulders 5 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Good advice and helpful. Thanks

    • dkyforever profile image

      dkyforever 6 years ago

      People photography is one of my favorite things ever! Thanks for posting these great ideas!

    • dobo700 profile image

      dobo700 7 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for the tips. I wil have to give them a go.