Portrait Photography Tips: The Guide for Those Still Learning

Every photographer could use some Portrait Photography Tips, and we’ve got a bunch for you right here.

With portrait photography among the core genres, we’re sure everyone wants to know how they can take great shots for when the need calls for it. More so for those who want to specialize in it and make it their bread and butter. This is why we make sure to regularly share projects, tutorials and cheat sheets loaded Portrait Photography Tips and its many sub-genres. If you’re still getting a grip on portrait photography, we can begin with a review of some essential tutorials to help move you forward.

Lenses for portraits

Gear remains one of the key considerations when it comes to portrait photography. But you can do it with either a DSLR or mirrorless camera, or even a film camera if you want. The next most important consideration is the lens you should use for portrait shoots, and you actually have a number of options. The most popular are the 50mm and 85mm lenses, but many photographers also achieve great results with 85mm and 135mm. To help you decide which ones to begin with, check out this visual guide for 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm lenses, and this comparison between 85mm and 135mm.

Want a quick recommendation? We suggest you take your pick from these affordable 50mm prime lenses.

Natural light vs. Studio lighting

Instead of telling our readers which one is better between natural light and studio lighting for portrait photography, we think it’s best that we all know how to do both. Because great portraiture, as with any kind of photography, is dependent on good lighting. Both can be achieved with natural and studio light, so the key here is knowing how to work with both lighting styles and when to opt for one over the other. Practicing with natural light is a good start for those who don’t have the budget for flash and studio lights yet; refer to this handy photography cheat sheet for some tips on making the most out of natural light. Once you’re ready to experiment with flash and other lighting, you might want to begin by studying this photography cheat sheet on simple lighting techniques. You can also play with some cheap lighting options for some creative portraits.

Looking for models and posing them

Of course, you can’t shoot portraits without a model or subject. The good news is, you don’t need to work with professional models straight away. You can always practice with your friends first. You can try these tips for posing non-models to start with. If you want to be specific, we also have separate tips for posing male models and posing female models. Keep practicing so you can build your own portfolio, which you can use to get both potential clients and models to work with. Once you’re more confident about your portfolio and more settled with your portrait photography style, it’s time to broaden your horizons and try these tips for finding new models to photograph.

Additional readings for great portraits

Of course, the tutorials and cheat sheets we shared above are just tips of the iceberg. There are techniques and tricks that are specific to the sub-categories of portrait photography, and we’re sure you’ll find a lot about those around the site. Aside from this, we also suggest checking out the following additional readings:

Three Common Mistakes to Avoid in Portrait

PhotographyPhotographer’s Toolbox: Portrait Photography Gear

Essentials (Besides Cameras and Lenses)

9 Photography Lighting Hacks to Level Up Your Portraits

9 Insights for Better Portrait Photography (from Format)

How to Make the Most of Sunsets for Golden Hour Portraits