Photography Tips

5 Portrait Photography Tips You Won’t Learn from the Camera Manual


Photography—whether it is portrait, landscape, event, or whatever else—is never an exact science. There are a few set rules and guidelines, but ones you can always break as long as you end up with a stunning image. Some of these guidelines are learned from the user manual and from “pro” shooters, but most can be learned through practice.

With that, here are a few photography lessons your camera manual will never tell you.

1. Expression

People tend to forget that a photo without any expression means nothing, and this is especially true in portrait photography. People like to see genuine emotions, not a rehearsed, forced smile. Expression is more important than the expensive gear, light, and even location.

Remember that the connection between the subject and camera is crucial in portrait photography. A good way to achieve this is to make the subject feel comfortable.

2. Composition

Composition is about drawing the viewer’s eyes straight to the most important details of the portrait—usually the subject’s face and eyes. This is where the rule of thirds comes in.

Be sure to focus on your subject and frame them in the most pleasing manner.

3. Lens

The camera’s focal point has the potential to distort your subject’s head in different ways. Generally, the longer the focal length, the more flattering the image and the shallower the depth of focus will be.

DSLRPros, a leading supplier of cameras and equipment, emphasizes the importance of finding the right lens. In portrait photography, the right lens is important in melting away distracting backgrounds.

4. Complimenting Colors

The right color combination is what makes your subject stand out. Master this technique in portrait photos by taking into account the colors in the background and the clothes on your subject.

5. Light

Light in photography deserves its own article, but two main things you can keep in mind is that 1) Artificial light is very directional, and 2) Natural light needs to be the same.

Master these principles and even with the simplest DSLR camera, you can have results guaranteed to turn people’s heads.