A great portrait is so much more than a shot of someone’s head and shoulders. It’s a creative photograph, one that tells the story of the person pictured more than a thousand words ever could. It should capture their image but also express their personality and what makes them unique.

Portraits can be professional—used for a LinkedIn profile photo or as part of your personal brand—or they can be deeply personal and sentimental—capturing treasured moments in your personal life such as pregnancy, a family connection or even reaching a milestone 40th or 50th birthday.

40 over 40 campaign, celebrate your 40s

Portrait photography tips and ideas

No matter what the purpose of your portrait is, I’ve put together a few tips and ideas that can inspire you to work with a photographer to create something you can truly cherish.

Location, location, location

Depending on what type of portrait you’re after, you can be creative with the location and break away from a photography studio if you wish.

If you’re planning a family photoshoot you may want to capture the magic of your family’s connection in your favourite park or outdoor location. For personal branding photography, you may wish to choose a workplace location that helps convey you, your brand and what you’re all about.

The one thing that is always important to remember when shooting portrait photography outdoors is of course the weather! If the conditions are too hot and humid or even turn wild and windy, it’s a good idea to have a backup location in mind in case mother nature is working against you on the day of the shoot.

The right background

As with your choice of location, the right background can either enhance or detract from a great portrait. This doesn’t mean you have to have a plain background, but sometimes something simple or neutral can be all you need to stage the perfect portrait.

Of course, if you’re really trying to make a statement with your portrait, choosing the right backdrop and composition for your photo can help convey your personality too. Work with your photographer to find points of interest or character in your location that could work as part of your image.

The right lighting

Lighting is key to creating all sorts of beautiful photography and portrait photography is no exception. Great lighting will make a tired person look amazing. The softer the light the better as it can add life to your eyes and a glow to your skin.

Outfit choice.

Just like the other elements of great portrait photography, your choice of outfit can help or hinder the final photo. Different types of clothing can of course portray different looks. But no matter what type of image you are trying to create, a simple outfit choice is always advisable as you don’t want busy patterns or colours to detract from the focus of the image—you!

Simple doesn’t have to be boring

Having said that, your outfit choice for your portrait should by no means be bland. You can use colours to make an impact and help get your personality across. Familiarising yourself with colour theory will help you find which colours suit your complexion, hair colour and personality.

It’s all in the eyes

Our eyes can convey so much about who we are and what we’re feeling. They’re also crucial for capturing the life and character in portrait photography.

If you wish to wear makeup for your portrait session, try to keep it as natural and evenly applied as you can—heavy makeup can make your eyes look smaller, more tired or can even age you in a photo.

If you decide you want your hair and makeup done for your photography session, work with a makeup artist that is experienced in creating looks for portraits. You may even wish to consider having your hair done in advance of your shoot, so you will feel comfortable and happy with the final result when it’s time for photos to be taken.

Get comfortable with posing

Regardless of whether it’s a professional shot or you’re aiming for a more candid and natural look, posing, changing positions and moving around can add life to your portrait and help get rid of any stiffness or awkwardness that may be coming across in the imagery.

Read my guide on posing for pictures and how to achieve a flattering angle to help you feel more comfortable and empowered by your portrait session.

For more information on portrait photography and how I work, book a call with me for a discovery chat.