20 Portrait Photography Do’s & Don’ts Photographers must Know

Daniel • updated May 11, 2023 • 3 min read

Portrait photography do's and don'ts, 14 Tips

Lights, camera, action! Get ready to embark on a thrilling adventure through the magical world of portrait photography do’s and don’ts. In this captivating show, we’ll uncover the secrets to capturing jaw-dropping portraits while avoiding the dreaded mishaps that can make your subjects cringe.

So, grab your popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the ride as we unveil the do’s that will transform your portraits into masterpieces and the don’ts that will keep you from stumbling over photography’s red carpets.

With a touch of humor and a dash of pizzazz, this entertaining guide will have you snapping like a pro and avoiding the paparazzi-worthy blunders. Let’s dive into the glitz, glamour, and oh-so-important do’s and don’ts of portrait photography!


10 Do’s of Portrait Photography

Enter the realm of portrait photography mastery as we unveil the ten essential do’s that will transform your images into works of art. With these guidelines at your fingertips, you’ll harness the power to capture the essence of your subjects, evoke emotions, and create portraits that leave a lasting impression.

From building rapport with your subjects to mastering composition, lighting, and posing, each do is a key ingredient in the recipe for breathtaking portraits. So grab your camera and prepare to embark on a journey of discovery, as we unlock the secrets that will elevate your portrait photography skills to new heights.

  1. Do communicate and build rapport with your subjects: Establishing a connection and making your subjects feel comfortable is crucial for capturing genuine and natural expressions.

  2. Do consider lighting: Pay attention to lighting conditions and use them to your advantage. Experiment with natural light, artificial light, and various lighting techniques to create the desired mood and emphasis.

  3. Do focus on the eyes: The eyes are often the focal point of a portrait. Ensure they are sharp and well-lit, as they convey emotions and create a connection between the subject and the viewer.

  4. Do experiment with composition: Explore different framing options, angles, and perspectives to add interest and variety to your portraits. Play with the rule of thirds, leading lines, and negative space to create visually engaging compositions.

  5. Do pay attention to the background: Ensure the background does not distract from the subject. Choose a background that complements and enhances the overall image, keeping it simple and uncluttered when necessary.

  6. Do consider posing and body language: Guide your subjects with posing suggestions that flatter their features and express their personality. Encourage natural and relaxed body language, avoiding stiff or awkward poses.

  7. Do use props selectively: Props can enhance the narrative or add visual interest to your portraits. Integrate props thoughtfully, ensuring they contribute to the overall composition and do not overshadow the subject.

  8. Do experiment with depth of field: Utilize shallow depth of field to separate the subject from the background and create a pleasing bokeh effect. This technique draws attention to the subject and adds a sense of depth to the image.

  9. Do retouch with subtlety: Post-processing is a valuable tool, but exercise restraint when retouching portraits. Enhance natural features and correct minor imperfections without altering the subject’s appearance drastically.

  10. Do continue learning and practicing: Portrait photography is a continuous learning process. Stay open to new techniques, study the work of other photographers, and regularly practice to refine your skills and develop your unique style.

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10 Don’ts of Portrait Photography

In the captivating world of portrait photography, it’s just as important to know what to avoid as it is to know what to do. With the ten crucial don’ts at your fingertips, you’ll navigate the potential pitfalls that can hinder your quest for remarkable portraits.

From steering clear of distracting backgrounds to maintaining proper lighting and posing techniques, each don’t is a guiding principle to help you sidestep common mistakes and refine your craft.

  1. Don’t neglect communication: Avoid directing your subjects from behind the camera without establishing a connection. Communicate clearly and provide guidance throughout the shoot to ensure their comfort and cooperation.

  2. Don’t overlook the background distractions: Be mindful of unwanted elements or distractions in the background, such as clutter, poles, or harsh lines that may detract from the main subject. Take the time to compose the shot and adjust the framing accordingly.

  3. Don’t rely solely on the camera’s automatic settings: While modern cameras offer advanced automatic modes, they may not always produce the desired results. Take control of exposure, focus, and other camera settings to achieve the best outcome for your portraits.

  4. Don’t use harsh or unflattering lighting: Avoid harsh, direct lighting that creates unflattering shadows or highlights. Aim for soft, diffused lighting that flatters the subject’s features and creates a pleasing and even illumination.

  5. Don’t forget to review and adjust settings: Regularly check your camera settings throughout the shoot to ensure proper exposure, white balance, and focus. Mistakes in these settings can result in poorly exposed or blurry portraits.

  6. Don’t rush the process: Take your time to compose the shot, interact with your subject, and make necessary adjustments. Rushing through the shoot may result in missed opportunities for capturing the perfect moment.

  7. Don’t rely solely on the widest aperture: While shooting at wide apertures can create a beautiful shallow depth of field, it’s essential to consider the depth of field needed to keep the subject in focus. Use an appropriate aperture to maintain sharpness across the important elements of the portrait.

Tools to bring your portrait photography to life:

What are your tips about Portrait photography do’s and don’ts? Let us know in the comments.

By Furoore team member Daniel
Daniel has been supporting the editorial team as a content creator since the end of 2021 and is mainly responsible for portrait photography and related practical topics around cameras, lenses as well as accessories.

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