How to Take Great Portraits

There really is no secret to taking stunning portraits. A lot of people get hung up over finding the ‘magic technique’ to taking the greatest portraits – but reality is, it can be a lot simpler than you think.

It’s all about the eyes.

Our eyes really are windows to the soul and as human beings this is how we deeply connect with people – through the eyes. If you’re not focusing on the eyes in your portraits you’re missing out. Try making the eyes the focus of your next portrait, this will be a sure way to instantly help viewers connect with your photos.


Photo by zuhair Ahmad

Tell a story.

Tell a story with your photo. Capture the mood of the scene or the feeling of a person. The best portraits always have a story behind them. Try telling a story with your next portrait!


Photo by Raphael Carmo

Keep an eye on the background.

Imagine you have just taken your portrait. The lighting was pretty good, you really captured the raw (see what I did there) emotion a Nikon can bring to a grown man. But then you notice the background and see there’s a tree sticking out your subjects head! Oh no!

Yeah you could spend a wee while in photoshop trying not to make a pig’s ear of the background or you could spend a second looking at what’s behind your subject. Trust me this will save you lots of time sat in front of a computer with a headache! :)

Light Light Light.

Seriously light. It can make or break a photo. There is no right or wrong light but there is quality of light and you should always use this to your advantage.

Portraits usually lend themselves to soft gentle light but this really depends on your subject and environment. You can’t always carry a softbox with you everywhere so it’s handy to know a few sneaky lighting techniques to get you out of trouble when you need to get that shot.


A cool lighting technique to try would be try bouncing your flash off a wall or ceiling to create a much more gentle and pleasing light – rather than firing it directly at your subject.

If you’re faced with shooting in the bright midday sun then get your subject into the shade for some cool and some amazingly soft light.

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Break the rules.

Rule of thirds, symmetry, never shoot a portrait with a wide angle lens… all great rules to get great portraits but we all know rules are there to be broken!

Yeah rules are there for good reason but it’s always good for the creative juices to go a little off piste from time to time.

Start breaking those rules and you will create some truly unique and amazing portraits.

Mix it up.


Try mixing in a bit of off camera flash with the ambient light for your next portrait adventure. A good way to approach this is to get the exposure you like for the ambient light and then fill in your subject with the flash. You might need to invest in some flash gels to match the temperature of the light from the flash with the ambient but if you enjoy this sort of shooting it’s well worth the few quid spent.

Have a change in perspective.


Photo by NNelumba

Sometimes it’s all too easy to get caught in the trap of taking the same type of photos especially in portraiture. A good way to avoid this is to throw in a crazy perspective every now and then. Try going against all the rules and crack out your wide angle lens and make your subject less of the main focus but part of the scene instead.

It’s all about the bokeh!


Photo by Chris Zebres

You can’t beat a good bit of bokeh can you? A great set of portrait photos wouldn’t be complete without a super shallow depth of field bokeh popping shot.

So get that aperture nice and wide, get your subject to say arh and get some creamy dreamy bokeh going on!

Be ready!

Be ready as you never know when that moment might suddenly appear. Often the best photos are when you least expect them! You don’t want to be fumbling around with your camera and miss your shot!

Get creative.

If you have some photo editing software or even just a flash gun you can get really creative when you shoot your next portrait, or self portrait!

Try adding a splash of colour to really change the mood of your photo.


Photo by MattysFlicks

If you want to get your camera of auto mode then why not try my free beginner photography course.

Take Amazing Portraits With These Tips!

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