5 Helpful Portrait Photography Tips

Portraits are one of the most popular photography genres. Selfies, pictures of family/friends, and snapshots of strangers get posted every day on social media.  How can you make your portraits stand out from the rest? To increase the impact of your portraits, try out the following 3 tips.

1. Change Your Perspective

Perspective is one of the first things to consider when taking photos. The most typical perspective is face-to-face, holding the camera at eye level. But there are so many other options. Why not drop to one knee? Or lay down on the floor? Or shoot from above? The same principle holds true for posing. Mix up posture, seating, and composition. You’re only limited by your subject’s comfort level.

Steven Ritzer – Jamy
portrait from above

Berit Alits – Hannah
redhead portrait

2. Create a Candid Look

Portraits look best when they look genuine. Unfortunately, candidness can be hard to create with posed portraits. One trick is to have the model look away from the camera. For example, there might be something interesting for the model to watch, like a wedding. For portraits with multiple people, simply ask them to look at each other. Even if it’s awkward at first, staring at another person turns into genuine laughter and smiles faster than just staring at a camera.

Sara – steam team
little boy mirror

Shirren Lim – .it’s all just a smoke screen.
cigarette smoke portrait

3. Try a Different Lens

The ‘standard’ lens for portraits tends to be a 50mm to 85mm, but why not try a 24mm? Of course, there will be some distortion of your subject’s features, but that might actually make the portrait more striking. For instance, if the model held her hand out, it would appear much larger and give the image a different feel. It might be exactly what you’re looking for.

Matthew Coughlin – 158/365 Yankees Suck
Yankees Suck tshirt

Shirren Lim – . [while] we were talking.
ash tray

4. Use a Prop

If you get a creative block, sometimes all you need is a good prop. It can be as small and simple as a pencil, or as big and unusual as a water hose. In general, people love playing with things. This playfulness will make the photo more candid and bring out your model’s personality,

Federica Giordano – fancy
wide brim hat portrait

Matthew Coughlin – 177/365 Self Defense
water hose portrait

5. Ignore the Face

Not focusing on the face can help you think out of the box. You don’t have to hide the face entirely–though that worked for Patty Maher. You just have to place your attention (and the viewer’s attention) on a different part of the body. For example, if your model has beautiful hair, you could get a few shots of her face turned away, hidden by her hair.

Likewise, don’t limit yourself to the front of the body. A person’s back can express their personality, too. Like all photography, you won’t know until you experiment.

Shirren Lim – .on the cusp.
portrait back tattoo

jordan parks – bunny
stuffed bunny

These photos were selected from our Flickr group. Next time you take an eye-catching portrait, share your photo with the group so we can admire your work!