How to do Portrait Photography?

How to do Portrait Photography?

Portrait photography is one of the most popular genres in photography. I can understand that very well, portrait photography is not the core area for every photographer. In advertising photography, photographers mostly need to work with people.

People are the most exciting motif that a photographer can imagine, again it depends on every photographer that what motif he chooses. Everyone has their own story and with successful portrait photography it is possible to capture excerpts from these stories in an expressive portrait.

In portrait photography you constantly get to know new people and no one is the same as the other.

A portrait also makes the subject happy. Provided of course the portrait is not a catastrophe. Which landscape, which architecture or which product is already happy about successful photos of itself?

Portrait photography can be more captivating than almost any other type of photography. Have you ever got stuck with photos of expressive characters and couldn’t stop looking? Being a photographer, you may feel like that all the time.

How do you start with portrait photography?

Precisely because people are involved, many do not simply dare to take portrait photography at the beginning. A healthy respect is also appropriate, but there should be no talk of fear. With the right knowledge, equipment and the right people, getting started with portrait photography will be fun and a real asset.

It would be presumptuous to say that one could explain portrait photography in a single blog article or tutorial and make you an excellent portrait photographer tomorrow. In this area you can learn for a lifetime, both in terms of technology, light and image design or processing, but also and above all in psychology.

But here I can share a few tips to help you get started. Many of these tips can be used to bring you closer to your goals in portrait photography.

For me portrait photography is 90% psychology. That doesn’t mean that you only have to be able to photograph 10%. Just so we don’t get it wrong. Only, no matter how well you take photos, you have to be many times better on the psychological side.

With these tips it will be easier for you to get started with portrait photography and you will have a good basis to find out for yourself whether this genre is right for you.


Which brings us to the first question of religion, what equipment do you need for portrait photography? You will find as many answers as you ask people about them. Some will explain to you that you absolutely need a fixed focal length of over 70mm, as well as at least 3 flashes, light shapers, reflectors, assistants, make-up artists and best of all a studio.

Already clear. All of this can be used for portrait photography. And a lot more. But do you really need that for a good portrait? Not at all! In fact, you can get started right away with exactly what you have available.


Of course, things get a bit difficult if you only have a fisheye lens or a super wide angle. But I assume that you have at least one standard or kit lens with your camera. And that’s enough for now.

If you have a little budget or you already have a range of lenses, a fast lens is of course an advantage. The more open the aperture, the softer the background, the better the subject stands out from the background.

The thing with the longer focal length is also justified. If you want to photograph faces without distortion as far as possible, you should actually use focal lengths over 70mm. One of my favorite lenses for portrait photography is the 85mm / 1.2 from Canon.

But I also really like short focal lengths for portraits. So like now, short or long focal length, is there no simple answer to that?

Now that doesn’t mean you can’t use 35mm or 24mm for a portrait. You just have to do this carefully and very specifically. If the effect that is created in the photo is what you want and you use it in a targeted manner, then that can be excellent.

As always with the rules, they are meant to be broken. But you have to know them in order to be able to break them in a targeted manner. An unintentionally broken rule looks bungled, but a deliberately broken rule can be a stylistic device.

And you can rarely seriously discuss “right” or “wrong” in photography when a rule has been deliberately broken.


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