20 Tips for Your Best Portraits

Written by Backdrop Express Photography Team on . Posted in Photography Tips, Portrait Photography

20 Tips for Your Best Portraits | Backdrop Express Photography Blog

Shooting portrait images that are a bit out of the ordinary is a good way to strengthen your photographic eye and create a unique final photo. Here are 20 ways to take amazing portraits.

1. Have Fun With Your Subject’s Eyes

The eyes are typically the focal point of any portrait and the way you capture your subject’s eyes can effect the feel of the image. Instead of the more traditional, and often boring, forward facing eye pose, have your subject look at something that isn’t included in the photo or at something else other than the camera’s lens.

2. Stay Away From Traditional Image Composition

Many photographers have agonized about sticking to the rules of breaking an image into three equal parts but some compelling images don’t always follow those kinds of rules.

3. Change Your Perspective

Just a slight adjustment of the angle you take a picture can make an enormous difference in the feel of the final image.

Portrait of young woman lying in pink top on the floor

4. Change up Your Lighting

Lighting doesn’t have to simply illuminate a subject, it can also be used for more dramatic lighting of just portions of your subject’s face. Experiment with different lighting styles, intensities and effects for more creative results.

5. Remove Your Subject From The Ordinary

Your subject may feel comfortable sitting in a chair, but the final image will be just as boring. Instead of the ordinary, think about posing your subject in a different area, with an unusual background (why not try an interesting floor drop as a background?) or in a pose that isn’t traditional portraiture.

6. Use Props

Props can provide a new focal point in a portrait that can enhance the final image.

7. Use Unfocused Shots

Not every shot you take has to be in focus. Sometimes with a lack of focus, we can really create some emotion and interest in what we are shooting. You can focus on one element and leave the rest of the shot blurred, or you can leave the entire image out of focus to create those dreamy shots.

young girl laying in grass

8. Shoot a Part of The Body

Take the shot, but of a portion of your subject’s body rather than the whole and you could end up with an amazing image. It’s a great example of “less is more”.

9. Cover a Portion of The Subject

Obscuring a part of your subject’s face or body can create a dramatic effect. Consider an image where you can only see the subject’s eyes and the emotional connection it can create.

10. Take Many Shots

Digital photography makes it easy, and cost effective, to do more continuous shooting of a subject, and provides you the ability to capture nuances between poses.

11. Frame Your Subject

Framing is a technique that draws attention to one element of the image by framing it with the other elements of the image. Framing creates depth for the image and it draws the eye to it. This may be something done simply by placing the subject in a window or a door, or you can even use their hands around their face.

12. Play with Backgrounds

Of course, the person that you are photographing is the focal point of the photos. But, when you put them in different photo backdrops, it will change the mood of the shot. A simple background like a seamless paper background also speaks a lot as it can be minimalistic. Sometimes you want the opposite, you just have to play around to decide what mood you want to set.

model standing on brick wall

13. Use a Wide Angle

When you shoot with a wide angle lens, you are going to get remarkable shots for portrait photography. With very wide focal lengths, you will create distortion and it will actually enlarge the parts of the face and body that are on the edge.

14. Change the Format Framing

Don’t get stuck in the landscape or portrait rut. You don’t want to use just one or the other, mix it up so that it looks different. You never know what you will encounter until you practice.

15. Shoot With Your Camera on an Angle

You can do so much more than horizontal and vertical. Hold your camera at an angle and have a lot of fun. Doing this creates framing that is going to add energy and fun into the shots you are taking.

16. Use Candid Shots

Every portrait doesn’t necessarily need to be posed. Talk to your subject while they move around the set, and take a series of candids that capture their mood in a unique way.

17. Have Movement in Your Photos

Your portraits can have movement in them; they don’t need to be stoic. You can do this in a few ways: make your subject move, keep your subject still but have movement around them, or move the camera.

female portrait on brown backdrop

18. Experiment with the Expressions of Subjects

With some portraits, the expression on someone’s face makes the photo. Have your subjects experiment with their facial expressions and have some emotion.

19. Fill the Frame

You can always ensure that you are capturing attention by filling the frame. When you do this, use a simple photo backdrop, as it will not be part of the focus. This is a great way to take a great shot.

10. Find an Interesting Subject to Shoot

Don’t be afraid to ask people in the street to take a photo of them. Photographers do it quite often. If you find yourself in a unique situation you may find you can create some amazing shots with very little preparation.

What tips do you have for improving portrait photography?

-Backdrop Express Photography Team

Interested in learning more about portrait photography? Check out 7 Posing Tips for Portraits!

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Comments (2)

  • Portrait Photography Tips


    Thanks for great advice, Should be useful for photographers.


  • Ray Binner


    Thank you so much for the great INFO. I am just getting in to portrait and wedding photography.


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