10 Tips & Tricks for Shooting Great Portraits

By EyeEm - 3 min read

Portrait photography is a craft of its own. Get started with these helpful hints.

Portrait photography is certainly a craft of its own: it’s not easy to master and depends a lot on your technique, mindset and personal relationship to your subject. How do you get started?We’ve put together a list of 10 helpful hints.

1. Use natural light
Natural light gives you great results when it comes to color, contrast and saturation; especially with smartphone cameras. Use the light coming in through a window or a door, profit from the soft tones in the afternoon and play around with reflections.

2. Find a background with low details
Watch out that your background is not taking too much attention or even deranges your composition. Make sure to have some backgrounds in mind before you start shooting so you can try out different effects.

3. Play with the space around your model
Leave some space around your subject. It makes the portrait look more interesting and leaves room for the eyes to wander.

4. Make your subject feel comfortable and let them act
Create a relaxed and natural situation for your model. If they feel uneasy give them something to do or interact with. Always keep the conversation running, relax and give it time.

5. Set a counterpoint in the picture
Divide your frame in parts of three (The rule of thirds). On the opposite side of your model you can set a smaller counterpoint. This creates tension in the image and helps to make your photo feel more dynamic.

6. Focus on the eyes
People who view your photo will automatically search for the subjects eyes. Try to make the eyes focussed and sharp.Everything around the face can be less detailed or even show effects of depth of field blur.

7. But don’t force a direct look in the camera
If your subject tends to look away from the center of your lens, go with it. It can create really beautiful portraits too!

8. Get creative with framing your subject
It’s clear that the focus of a portrait is the person’s face. Instead of using effects like tilt shift or depth of field, you can play around with props like mirrors or shapes. Get creative to create truly outstanding portraits.

By Neil Barnsley

9. Play with shadow and light
Add some drama to your portraits by highlighting parts and creating sculptural effects with the use of light & shadow. Use a black & white filter with high contrast to even increase this effect.

Cute boy with eye closed blowing birthday candle on cake in darkroom

10. Create tension with different angles
Change your point of view by shooting from above your subject or look up to it. You’ll realize that the message totally changes. Play around and see what you get!


To get inspired you shouldn’t miss the albums Portrait, Color Portrait and Portraits.