Portrait Tips to Take Your Photography to the Next Level

You have all the makings of a beautiful photograph: the perfect client, an overcast day for soft natural lighting and a gorgeous landscape as the backdrop. You’re taking photos but noticing that something’s not quite right. The photos look underwhelming.

Here are 7 tips to take your portraits to the next level.

Have your subject look up at you

It’s slimming and flattering. Bring a small step stool to stand on and photograph your subjects from slightly above their eye line. Watch double chins disappear. Keep a step stool in the trunk of your car so you don’t even have to think about adding it to the list of gear to bring when you prep the night before. It’s there, ready to go.

Capture the moments in between poses

Personally this is a favorite of mine. If you’re noticing the images look too posed, or your subject is uncomfortable in front of the camera, shake things up. Ask them to do the most ridiculous pose or ask them to pretend to laugh really hard. Take that photo, but keep the camera up and wait. The moment after that photo happens you’ll find their guard will come down, they will laugh authentically or give you a moment that feels much more real.

Turn the subject’s body slightly

Have them turn their body slightly away from the camera and their face still looking straight at you. This is not only slimming, it also gives the photograph more depth.


Always tell them how beautiful they look. It’s unnerving to have someone pointing a camera at you and not know what the photos look like. Tell them. It will help calm their nerves and you will notice a difference in the photos because they will feel more confident and attractive.

Tell your subject to flirt with the camera

Ok, that sounds weird but it can work. Ask them what celebrity crushes they have. That changes the look in their eyes and on their face. Have them pretend that the camera is that person. Seriously. It makes them laugh, which goes with tip 2, and helps them loosen up as well. If they are in a relationship, ask them when they met, how they met, or some other stories about their partner that lights them up. Watch the shift happen and take photos throughout the conversation. You’ll capture moments that are real and off guard.

Clothing selection is important

Have them pick out clothing from their wardrobe that makes them feel like a rock star. It must be clothing that they feel comfortable in and which allows them to move easily. No crazy patterns or bright colors.


If you’re outside, open shade is extremely flattering. This is best early in the morning, late afternoon and close to sunset, when shadows are being created from trees and buildings. Have your subject stand in the shade. A great place to explore this is in doorways. Try just inside an open garage door. Stairways inside parking garages can also provide a shade that’s not too dark, with the brightness outside reflecting on them perfectly. If you’re inside, you can still use natural lighting by turning off all the overhead lights and lamps and having your subject move close to the window. When it’s overcast it’s best because again, it will be even soft light on their face without any shadows or harsh light making them squint.