What Is Portrait Photography and Its Techniques

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Have you wondered what the importance of facial expressions is? Imagine yourself looking at a person smiling. What do you feel after looking at it? Some may feel happy, while others may feel a sense of acceptance. Well, that is exactly what portrait photography is about. Portrait Photography is the skill of representing a piece of a person’s personality. Commonly called as portraiture, portrait photography focuses only on the face. It depicts the inner persona of a person. In short, portrait photography brings out the inner emotions and connects people in a way that words cannot.

They say that a person’s expressions and body language talk volumes about their personality. Thus, you might ask – what is portrait photography? It is the art of finding the hidden characteristics of an individual through a photograph.

What is Portrait Photography?

There are many styles of Portrait Photography. However, below are the few common ones.

1. Traditional Photography

Traditional Portrait Photography is one of the simpler forms of portrait photography. It is shot in a studio with a pre-set background. This is because the photographer has more control over the ambiance of the setting. Further, he can adjust the lighting and exposure in a studio. In simpler terms, they are asked to pose directly towards the camera with some facial expression. Thus, the key feature of traditional portrait photography is the studio.

2. Lifestyle Portrait Photography

The main essence of lifestyle photography is to capture shots of people in their natural environment. It reflects the everyday activities of people and has the aura of normal life and simplicity.

3. Environment Portrait Photography

In this style of portraiture, photographers aim at taking a glimpse of a person in a particular environment. This involves the subjects to be a little camera-centric, but yet stay true to the environment they are in.

For example, if your subject is keen on pets, you might want to center your shoot at a park, pet stores, etc. If they are passionate about music, you could click photos of your subject holding a guitar.

Whatever the situation is, for good quality photographs, the most important fact to focus on is the interests of the subject.

4. Family Portrait Photography

This is one of the common forms of portrait photography. It uses numerous subjects and captures their interactions amongst themselves. It focuses on every individual rather than a single person.

Techniques of Portraiture

Portrait Photography is a hard skill to perfect. Like any other practice, it requires learning certain techniques, which are essential in mastering the skill.

1. Subject is Key

In portraiture, your key priority is the subject. Understanding the comfort of your subject, and connecting with them on a personal note helps to achieve a good photo. In portrait photography, it is vital for you to remember that the main agenda is capturing the subject’s face. Concentrating on an individual’s expressions and facial movements enables you to click the perfect snap.

2. Ambiance

The next step is to make sure that the surroundings of your setting are proper and functional. As a portrait photographer, it is crucial to make sure that the lighting, the time, and other components are in harmony with each other. This ensures a smooth shoot and allows you to get the perfect snap.

For example, make sure that the lighting in the background as well as on the subject is balanced. Both should not overpower each other. Another example is to try making sure that the time of day is suitable for shooting a portrait.

3. Equipment Ready

In any type of photography, it is essential to have the right equipment ready for before your shoot. This helps to make sure that things flow smoothly. Examples of equipment include a camera, lenses, a tripod, etc. Apart from physical equipment, it is also important to make sure that the camera is set to its proper settings.

4. Background

As a portrait photographer, it is important to pay attention to the background of the subject. The background in a portrait emphasizes and creates a dramatic effect, which in turn enhances the overall effect of the photograph. For example, in some situations, a blurred background enhances the subject. However, in some cases, it does not. So, play around with the camera settings to find the right choice for you.

5. Multi-Dimensional Viewpoints

Like every coin has two sides, it is important for you to try and encapsulate different angles of the photo. You can try experimenting with the subject’s poses, or the camera angles, etc. By doing so, you are able to find the one shot that expresses exactly what it is intended to.

What Equipment Do you need for a Perfect Portrait?

Portrait Photography requires certain pieces of equipment to ensure that the final product is a masterpiece.

1. Camera

For any photo, the basic building block is a camera. However, before purchasing, take a look at a few of the basic features of Portrait Photography.


When clicking photos in natural light, you should put the ISO setting of your camera on its lowest. This helps to minimize any deviations in the brightness levels and gives out a good-quality output.

b.White Balance

White Balance is a feature in cameras that balances the color temperatures of an image. Thus, when purchasing, make sure your camera has a White Balance option that allows you to experiment with the different modes. This helps in finding the right fit for your photo.

2. Tripod

A tripod is a tool that helps to stabilize your camera. It helps you to maneuver the camera without moving it for steady pictures. As most portraits are motionless, consider purchasing a tripod for smooth and high-quality images.

3. Lenses

Lenses play a major role in portrait photography. Make sure you have a good focal length to shoot your portraits. The ideal focal length for portraits is 85mm. However, consider purchasing a wide-range lens, as it gives you an opportunity to experiment zooming in and out.

Thus, portrait photography is a beautiful art form on its own. It makes you understand the various angles a photograph can be viewed in, and how these angles evoke different emotions and feelings for the viewer. So grab your cameras, and get ready to dive into the wide world of portraiture.


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Marco Downs

Marco Downs

Marco Downs is our second founder and he is the creative head of this website. Marco stumbled upon photography only in college when he joined the photography club. His parents could never afford a camera for him as a child and it was in college that he saved up and bought his first camera. He now writes in-depth buyer guides and informational articles to assist the buyers. 
Marco Downs

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