Seven Steps to Stunning Portraits

A few weeks ago I posted some tips about taking better family photographs during your vacations and summer activities. I have decided to expand on that and give my tips on taking stunning single-person portraits. Using these basic tips is a step in the right direction when it comes to improving your photos and looking more professional!

Pose naturally – Posing can be a tricky thing. Some people are comfortable being posed every which way and some people just….aren’t (I am one of those people!). Do your best to make your subject comfortable and keep the posing simple and natural. Introducing props can also make them feel more relaxed and create a variety of looks.

Variety of expressions – Not every shot needs to be of your subject smiling ear to ear; neutral expressions can be very beautiful. Try having the person look in a different direction or turn their head (as long as it looks natural). 

Angles – Shoot from different angles. Get low or get high, shoot from behind, and from the sides.

Framing – Frame your subject with foliage, a fence, a doorway, or a window.

Use the right lens – The right lens is SUPER important. My favorite portrait lenses are primes, specifically the 50mm and 85mm. A good portrait lens will have an aperture of 2.8 or less. This creates the beautiful blurred, dreamy backgrounds you often see in a really great portrait.

Reflector – Use a reflector if necessary. A reflector is a white, gold, or silver disk used to bounce light back into the subjects face and eyes. Reflectors are not very expensive; mine was $15.

A common theme you’ll notice in the above is “natural”. I personally love to capture people’s personalities instead of trying to make them into something they’re not, and many people I’ve photographed have been amazed at how good they look in the resulting photos. Everyone has their own great features and their own kind of beauty. Learn to capture someone honestly and skillfully, and *most* of the time, both you and your subject will love the result!

As always, if you have any questions or comments, comment below or contact me!