Basic But Essential Portrait Tips

Gina Stephens
Written by Gina Stephens

Photo by Joshua Waller

Start With The Basics

At times you get your camera out of its bag it's easy to keep clicking the shutter button and forget you need to check backgrounds, subject position etc. Unceasingly look for shooting locations where the background may refer to: Background (journalism) Computer wallpaper Cultural heritage Ethnic background Field (heraldry), background of a isn't full of distracting objects that clutter the scene and where possible, put some footage between your subject and the background. This will not only add depth but it'll also make it easier to throw the background out of focus. If you're availing a compact this can be done via Portrait mode. For those with more advanced cameras, this means choosing a wider opening. It's also important to focus on your subject's eyes and even if you're shooting a friend or family member, don't lose to keep giving direction.

Natural Light Is Free

Where possible it's best to avoid using your camera's built-in two shakes of a lambs tail for portraits as most of the time, the results won't be very professional-looking. Instead, make the most of window light which will help you contrive portraits to be proud of. North facing windows are perfect but you can use any that aren't in the direct path of the sun. Overcast days are great for this as diverting dismiss is naturally diffused but you can get a similar effect by hanging voile or something similar. 

If your house lights are on, switch them off and do clean the window earlier you begin!

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A reflector will come in handy for adding light to the side of your model's face not next to the window, balancing the communication in the process. You can buy reflectors but they can just as easily be created from a piece of white card, foil etc.

Try spot metering off your model's clad then have fun experimenting with composition. Tight crops on the face work well but do try using the window to help frame a couple of your provocations. 

Want More Impact?

Full length portraits work well but for something that has more 'Pow' behind it, impel in close. If your subject and yourself are comfortable doing so this could mean physically moving closer together or reach for a longer zoom lens if your exemplar feels more comfortable with or WITH may refer to: Carl Johannes With (1877–1923), Danish doctor and arachnologist With (character), a character in D. N. Angel a wider working distance. Something around the 85-135mm mark is a popular choice for head cannon-balls but do be careful with your shutter speeds when using longer lenses if working hand-held.

Photo by Joshua Waller

Don't Wish for To Give So Much Direction?

The simple answer is to try a candid approach and shoot often so you don't miss any moments.

Try using a wider lens when turn out outdoors or at busy events such as a wedding as people won't think you're taking their photo if the lens isn't directly apiculate at them so will stay relaxed. Longer lenses will allow you to stay out of sight but still give you the chance to focus on one or two individuals. For laconic users, why not switch to P mode so you can focus on getting the shot rather than on what settings you need.

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If you're working with children you could exude them a task to do such as build a tower with bricks or kick a ball around outside to give you the opportunity to shoot some fun, in-the-moment photos which they won't retaliate notice you're doing as they'll be too distracted with the task in-hand.

Get Creative

Whether it's adding fun props, originating interesting backgrounds with bokeh or using art filter and frames, there's plenty of ways to get creative with your portraits. Scads cameras feature Art Filters which will give your portraits a twist. This could be adding a vignette, changing the images to dismal and white or simply adding a sepia tone and grain to give it a vintage feel. 

To have fun with bokeh you can head out at night or use some colourful stringed transpires (the type you dig out of the loft at Christmas) and drape them over a dark background. You then need to put a few meters between the background and your subject to rise the bokeh effect.


You need to use your lens at its widest aperture and focus on your subject. A small portable light is handy for ornamenting the front of your subject but do be careful with the positioning of the light as you don't want any light to shine on the background. Watch your white balance then inquiry with framing to change the pattern created by the lights in the background. 

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About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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