Portrait Photography

Portrait photography of adults are shot more than any other subject. Be it on occasions like birthday or wedding party, a portrait for government formality or for pure commercial use, we will find portraits everywhere.

Portrait photography is one of the easiest subject. An adult can follow any instructions and can give different expressions to suit the environment and the story.

Photograph by Anwarali Kapasi

Care should be taken when shooting an adult in direct sunlight. Use reflectors to fill-in shadows or use fill in flash. If a subject is delicate like a child or a lady, place her in an open shade. If shooting in direct sunlight, keep her face away from the sun and bounce back the light with a reflector to open up dark and shadow area. This will make the skin tone richer. Be sure that the sun is not giving flare in the lens or contrast will be lost. Use a good deep lens hood designed for that particular lens, or cast shadow of your hand to cut the flare.

Use wide aperture (f2 or f2.8). This will reduce the depth of field and the back ground will become blur. Read more about aperture.

Old persons with wrinkles on the skin can be exploited in direct sun for capturing texture on the skin.



Studio photography: Lighting for portrait photography in studio can be Broad Lighting, Narrow Lighting and Butterfly or Glamour Lighting.

These are controllable form of lighting when we are shooting in a studio.

Broad Lighting: Main light or key light in this setting will illuminate the broader part of face. Fill-in light can be one or one and half stop less powerful as compared to main light. This type of lighting is suitable for a person with narrow face. Read about broad lighting technique in detail.

Arrangement of broad light:

Broad light

Example of broad light:


Notice how round face of model looks more bulged with broad light setting

Model : Yashwant Raj


Narrow Lighting: Main light or key light in this setting will illuminate the narrower part of face. Fill-in light can be one or one and half stop less powerful as compare to main light. This type of lighting is suitable for a person with round face. Read more about narrow lighting technique in detail.

Arrangement of narrow light:

Narrow light

Example of narrow light:


With narrow light, round face looks more appealing

Model : Yashwant Raj


Butterfly or Glamour Lighting: In this case. the key light is directly in align with camera in such a way that it will cast a shadow under the nose of the subject. This shadow is in shape of a butterfly, and that is why it is known as butterfly lighting. Fill-in can be just enough to open up deep shadow under the chin. This type of lighting is suitable for a model with good proportional face and jaw line. Read more about butterfly lighting technique in detail.

Arrangement of butterfly or glamour light:

Glamour light

Kicker Light: If we are shooting a model against dark back ground, then kicker light is required to highlight the hair line. Normally, a kicker light is half to one f-stop more powerful than the main or key light.

We can experiment with different lighting techniques and back ground as the choice is subjective, yet there are certain points to be taken into account. Hardly we will find a person who is absolutely comfortable in front of a camera. Most of them will show their inferiority complex and the rest will show superiority complex. Both these complexes are disaster for a photograph. We must capture neutral, friendly looking expression in order to make the photograph appealing to the audience.



Model: Priya Yadav

This can be done with communication and some simple exercise to relax facial muscles. Ask the model to shut her eyes tightly and to wide open the mouth. On your part, use of moderate telephoto lens (105 mm to 200 mm) will increase the distance between the model and the camera. This will make the model comfortable.

Smile on the face is an utmost important expression in portrait photography. It should be absolutely natural. A person will give very natural smile in normal life but when he is in front of a camera, the natural look disappear. Even a professional model will give a posed smile if not properly directed. Then there are some, who will give one sided smile and some, who will give a sarcastic smile. It is our job to get most out of a model in portrait photography. The smile should not come only from lips and face but should come out of eyes!

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Read more about various subjects of photography

Abstract photography

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Erotic photography

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Flash photography

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High key photography

Industrial photography

Infrared photography

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Low key photography

Macro photography

Model photography

Nature photography

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Nude photography

Outdoor photography

Outdoor portraits

Pet photography

Photography in direct sun light

Photojournalism

Product photography

Publishing-house photography

Royalty free stock photography

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Stock photography

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Surreal photography

Wedding photography

Wildlife photography



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