Taking a Better Portrait Photograph – Five Quick Tips

Hi there, this time I thought I’d share ‘five quick tips for taking a better portrait photograph’. I picked these up either from taking portrait photos myself, or working with portrait pics when I’ve been asked to sketch your photos.

Five Quick Tips to Taking a Better Portrait Photograph

Taking a Better Portrait PhotographI’m assuming that you (like me) are not a photographic enthusiast (or expert) and that you’re probably using a compact digital camera and not an SLR (one of those ones with a removable lens). Also, this is not ‘Artistic’ advice (I’m not David Bailey), these tips are purely intended to help you get better quality results and make my life easier by giving me more detail to work from in your photos.


These five quick tips require no special equipment, so anyone can try them and will make a big difference to the quality of the portrait photos you take.

  1. Let there be light (go outside) – Good lighting is really important and indoor lights are often insufficient to properly light the subject for a photograph. If you can’t go outside, make sure you have as much light as possible in the room, make sure curtains are open and turn on all the lights, don’t just rely on the camera flash.
  2. Put the Sun to one side – If you have managed to get outside and it’s a nice sunny day try to arrange it so that the sun is to one side (not directly behind you or your subject). If the sun is behind you, your subject may squint at you (not the best ‘look’ for them) and if it’s behind them, they may look very dark in the shot as your camera tries to compensate for the bright sun in the lens. If the light is behind your subject you could try using the camera flash as this can ‘balance’ the light and give nice highlights to the subject’s eyes.
  3. Steady the camera – Not everyone’s got a tripod, but keeping the camera steady when taking the shot will they really make a difference to the outcome. There are cheap options such as mini (bendy) tripods that can stand the camera up on a table etc. but if you don’t have anything just try resting your camera on something solid (e.g. back of sofa, chair, table, fence or wall), anything that keeps the camera still when the shot is taken will improve the result.
  4. Set details levels to maximum – Most digital cameras have a setting that allows you to change the detail level of each shot taken. This may seem like obvious advice, but make sure that your camera’s it set to maximum quality. Memory cards are cheap these days, so get a bigger one if you need to.
  5. Take lots of pics – unlike the ‘old days’ of camera film and prints, a digital photograph costs you nothing to take, so take lots! For any pose, position or camera angle, take several photographs each time. Sometimes people blink, move or you may nudge the camera spoiling that shot, but if you have a few to choose from it won’t matter. You may find that you capture the perfect ‘moment’ only on the third or fourth shot, so don’t be shy, just snap away until the memory card is full, then simply put them on your PC, choose the best of the bunch and you can delete the rest.

Remember, sometimes you only get one chance to capture a special ‘moment’ so make sure that the photo you take is the best it can be. Then, obviously, just send it to me and I’ll turn it into a work of art for you.

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