How to Photograph Faces

Michael • updated February 19, 2023 • 8 min read

How to Photograph Faces

Capturing great photographs of faces is a skill that takes time and practice to master. Whether you’re a professional photographer or an amateur looking to improve your skills, learning how to photograph faces can make a significant difference in the quality of your images.

This comprehensive guide will cover all the aspects of portrait photography you need to know to take great pictures of faces.

1. Equipment and Preparation

Before you start photographing faces, you need to make sure you have the right equipment. Your camera and lens selection, lighting options and setup, and the props and backgrounds you use can all have a significant impact on the quality of your images.


When it comes to cameras, you have a wide range of options to choose from, depending on your budget and level of expertise. If you’re a beginner, a DSLR camera or mirrorless camera is a good choice. If you’re a professional, you may want to invest in a high-end camera that offers more advanced features.


Your choice of lens is also essential for portrait photography. A lens with a wide aperture (such as f/1.8 or f/2.8) can help you create a shallow depth of field, which can blur the background and make your subject stand out.


Lighting is also crucial for portrait photography. You can use natural light, artificial light, or a combination of both, depending on the effect you’re trying to achieve. The use of props and backgrounds can also help set the mood and create a more engaging portrait.

Read more about one of the best portrait photography lens here.

2. Technical Aspects of Portrait Photography

Exposure, aperture, and shutter speed are essential technical aspects of portrait photography that can affect the quality of your images.


Exposure determines how much light enters your camera, while aperture determines how much light enters the lens. Shutter speed controls the amount of time your camera’s sensor is exposed to light.

Focus and depth of field

Focus and depth of field are other critical technical aspects of portrait photography. When taking portraits, it’s important to focus on the subject’s eyes and use a shallow depth of field to blur the background and create a more dramatic effect. Composition and framing are also essential for creating a well-balanced and aesthetically pleasing image.

3. Creating a Comfortable Environment

Creating a comfortable environment for your subject is vital to capturing great portraits. Communication with your subject, body language, and facial expressions can all affect the outcome of the image. You can also use posing and positioning to create a more flattering image of your subject.

4. Tips to make any Face more Photogenic

Everyone wants to look their best in photographs, but not everyone is blessed with photogenic features. However, with a few simple tips and tricks, you can learn how to make any face more photogenic and capture stunning portraits.

Here are some tips to help you create more flattering and attractive images of your subjects.


Lighting is one of the most critical factors when it comes to making any face more photogenic. The right lighting can help to create shadows and highlights that accentuate your subject’s features and create a more flattering image. Soft, diffused lighting is usually the most flattering, as it helps to minimize harsh shadows and create a more even tone.


The angle at which you take a photograph can also have a significant impact on how flattering the final image is. For example, shooting from above can create unflattering shadows and highlight features such as a double chin or forehead.

Shooting from below can also create an unflattering angle, making the face appear distorted or larger than it is. Instead, try to shoot from eye level or slightly above for the most flattering angle.


The composition of the photograph can also help to create a more flattering image. For example, you can use the rule of thirds to create a more balanced image, or experiment with different framing and cropping techniques to create a more creative and engaging portrait.

For better photo composition read also:

Posture and Posing

Posture and posing are also essential factors when it comes to creating a more photogenic image. Encourage your subject to sit or stand up straight, as this can help to create a more confident and attractive appearance. You can also experiment with different poses and angles to find the most flattering and engaging shot. Read more about how to pose men for a photoshoot.


The expression on your subject’s face can also have a significant impact on how photogenic they appear in the final image. Encourage your subject to smile or adopt a relaxed and confident expression, as this can help to create a more attractive and engaging image.

Clothing and Props

The clothing and props used in the photograph can also help to create a more photogenic image. Encourage your subject to wear clothing that flatters their body shape and skin tone, and experiment with different accessories and props to create a more unique and personalized portrait.

By following these tips and experimenting with different techniques and styles, you can learn how to make any face more photogenic and create stunning portraits that capture the unique character and personality of your subject.

Remember to communicate with your subject and make them feel comfortable and confident throughout the session, as this can help to create a more engaging and attractive image.

5. How to Smile for a Photo

  • Relax your facial muscles to make sure that your face is relaxed, as a tense face can make you look uncomfortable or forced.
  • Practice your smile in front of a mirror or with a friend to get a feel for the type of smile that looks natural and genuine on you.
  • Think happy thoughts before the photo is taken, try to think of something that makes you happy or brings a smile to your face.
  • Show your teeth, a genuine smile usually involves showing your teeth, so don’t be afraid to let your smile be a little big.
  • Use your eyes, a smile is often communicated through the eyes as well as the mouth, so make sure to make eye contact with the camera and crinkle your eyes slightly.
  • Take multiple photos, and try to smile in a different way. Don’t worry if you don’t get the perfect smile on the first try. Take multiple photos and choose the one that you like the best.

6. Position Faces Correctly

When taking portraits, the camera is usually held about eye level. So, most pictures are taken from about the same point of view. Read more about portraits with common light sources. and learn about how to take photos of people wearing glasses.

You can look at a face from different angles:

  • Frontal
    When a picture of a face is taken from the front, at eye level, it looks very clear and honest. This is not a good way to hide flaws. If the head is facing the photographer but the upper body is turned, the picture is more interesting.
  • Half-profile
    The face is turned slightly away from the camera. This hides any small differences between the two sides of the face, like if one eye is smaller than the other. The smaller eye should then be on the side that faces the camera. Since it is closer to the camera, it will look bigger.
  • Three-quarter profile
    If the face is turned away from the camera even more, the unevenness is hidden even more. Be careful: the nose shouldn’t go past the edges of the face, because that would throw off the proportions.

It can be very interesting to show only one side of a person. But this draws attention to prominent facial features, which isn’t always a good thing.

If you shoot faces outdoor, we have a guide for outdoor portrait photography here.

7. Tips for Photographing Different Types of Faces

When it comes to portrait photography, every face is unique, and there are different tips and considerations to keep in mind when photographing different age groups, genders, and ethnicity. Here are some tips to help you create stunning portraits of people of all ages, genders, and cultural backgrounds.

Photographing Children

Photographing children can be challenging, as they are often easily distracted and difficult to pose. To get the best shots, try to keep the session fun and lighthearted, and use props and toys to keep their attention. It’s also essential to get down to their level and focus on their eyes to create a more engaging image.

Photographing Teens

Teens are often more self-conscious and may feel awkward in front of the camera. To help them relax, try to create a comfortable and supportive environment, and communicate with them throughout the session. You can also ask them to bring their favorite outfit or accessory to create a more personalized portrait.

Photographing Adults

When photographing adults, it’s essential to create a connection and communicate with them to help them feel at ease. You can also use posing and positioning to create a flattering image, and experiment with different lighting and backgrounds to create a unique portrait.

Photographing Elderly Individuals

When photographing elderly individuals, it’s essential to be patient and take the time to make them feel comfortable. You can also use natural light or soft lighting to create a more flattering image, and try to capture their unique character and life experience in the portrait.

Gender Differences and Considerations

When it comes to gender differences, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. For example, men tend to prefer more straightforward poses and lighting, while women may prefer a softer, more romantic look. It’s also essential to communicate with your subject to understand their preferences and create a portrait that reflects their personality.

Ethnicity and Cultural Awareness

When photographing individuals from different ethnic backgrounds, it’s essential to be aware of cultural differences and sensitivities. For example, some cultures may consider eye contact to be impolite, while others may prefer a more modest pose.

By communicating with your subject and being sensitive to their cultural background, you can create a more engaging and respectful portrait.

By keeping these tips in mind and communicating with your subject, you can create stunning portraits that capture the unique character and personality of people of all ages, genders, and cultural backgrounds.

Are you are interested in photography history? Read our article about photography history timeline here.

8. Face Photography Photos

Frequently asked Questions

What is the best lighting for face photography?

The best lighting for face photography will depend on the look you want to achieve. Soft, natural light can give your photo a soft, flattering look, while dramatic lighting can give your photo depth and interest. Experiment with different lighting setups to see what works best for you.

How do I pose for a face photograph?

To pose for a face photograph, try to relax your facial muscles and smile naturally. Make eye contact with the camera and try to look confident and comfortable.

You can also try tilting your head slightly or changing your expression to add variety to your photos.

How do I take a good self-portrait?

To take a good self-portrait, start by finding a location with good lighting and a pleasing background. Set your camera on a tripod or use the self-timer to avoid a camera shake.

Experiment with different poses and expressions to find a look you like. Use the editing tools on your camera or phone to adjust the exposure, color balance, and other settings to create the look you want.

What lens is best for face photography?

The best lens for face photography will depend on the look you want to achieve and the type of camera you’re using. A lens with a wide aperture (low f-stop number) will create a shallow depth of field, which can help draw attention to your subject and create a sense of intimacy.

On the other hand, a longer focal length lens can make the background more blurry and create a portrait-like look. Experiment with different lenses to see which one works best for you.

How do I take a good face photo of someone who is camera-shy?

To take a good face photo of someone who is camera-shy, start by making them feel comfortable and relaxed. Engage with them and start a conversation to help put them at ease.

Try to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Use a lens with a longer focal length to create a more intimate, less intimidating look. Consider using a prop or activity to help them feel more comfortable and give them something to do with their hands.

Conclusion – there is beauty everywhere

Capturing great photographs of faces requires a combination of technical expertise, communication skills, and creativity. By using the tips and techniques outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can take your portrait photography to the next level.

Remember to experiment, practice, and have fun, and you’ll be well on your way to creating stunning portraits that capture the essence of your subject.

If you post frequently portrait photos on social media, give our portrait photography quotes for Instagram a try.

More reads about face photography:
A Photo a Week Challenge: That Face
Double exposure tutorial for the Canon 5D Mark III

Keep reading: Good Portraits with common Light Sources »

Tools to bring your portrait photography to life:

What is your opinion on How to Photograph Faces? Let us know in the comments.

By Furoore team member Michael
Furoore Team is here to assist you in capturing the most significant moments in your life. To create exciting photographs, discover photography guides, find unique photo ideas, and limitless image inspiration.

Turn your snapshots into awesome portraits.



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