Portrait Photography

Portrait photography is a unique discipline in the photographic world. It is a discipline that stresses composure and substance above all else. You can definitely take photo portraits that involve dynamic motion and that seem more candid. However, the bulk of portrait photography heavily stresses the composition of your shot and the way you use lighting to “design” your shot.

Necessary Equipment

Most equipment in the world of photography is a personal decision. The photographer must look at his or her own style to determine what photographic equipment they really need. However, there are a few pieces of equipment that no portrait photographer should be without.


Proper lighting is absolutely key to creating attractive portraits. Lighting can create depth, it can enhance specific colors, and it can make all the difference between a portrait that looks professional and one that looks amateur.

Most portrait photographers use at least three lights: umbrella lamps, spot lamps, and lightboxes.

Umbrella lamps are essentially a lamp bulb that is covered with an umbrella head. When these lamps are facing toward the subject of your portrait, they create a diffused texture to the light that creates an even tone. By using one of these, you will eliminate the possibility of shine with skin that is wet or oily.

Spot lamps are used to significantly enhance one aspect of your subject and create shadow effects. They are bright, non-hooded lamps that create a cascade of light over your subject. They are non-directional lights. Some spot lamps are hooded with a very wide screen that doesn't force the light to conform to a uni-directional pattern.

Lightboxes are essentially stage lights that create a directional beam of light. These are used for the sake of intensity, and also for filters. Lightboxes often come pre-built with fixtures to hold many different types of light filters. Backdrops

Getting the right backdrop is an important part of being a portrait photographer. Thankfully, deciding on the right backdrop has become much simpler in recent years.

The explosion of digital photography has made is possible for portrait photographers to get away with using one backdrop to get a wide range of effects. Photographers used to buy many different backdrops to give their customers options. Now, digital photography programs allow you to key in whatever background you want. You only need to buy a green dropcloth and you are set.

For "glamor" or style portraits, you may also want to consider buying a white muslin backdrop.


The importance of props varies inversely with the age of your subject. Photographing children requires you to have props like toys, dolls, and puppets to keep them occupied and smiling. There are some photographers that use outdoor props to help give an "outdoors" feel to their portraits, however it is much smarter to simply go on location to take outdoor photos.

Getting Your Subject to Pose

One of the most difficult things about taking portraits is getting your subject to look and feel comfortable. Most people are not accustomed to actually trying to pose for a camera and that makes them feel uncomfortable or out of place. When you also consider that you are probably someone that he or she barely knows, it can become even more uncomfortable for them.

It is very important that you do whatever you can think of to help make your subject more comfortable. You can recommend that they bring some music that you can play during the shoot. You should also recommend that they bring a friend or a family member along to help them feel more comfortable. Remember that compliments go a long way when you're taking portraits.

Getting children to pose is another matter entirely. The first thing to remember with children is that they will have a very hard time understanding what you are asking them to do. While that may sound obvious, many adults sometimes forget just how much of their language is geared toward conveying abstract concepts to other adults. With children, it's important to take things very slowly and be very clear with what you need. With children that can't speak, remember that the attitude you bring the shoot will almost entirely dictate the attitude of the child you're photographing.

Professional Portrait Photographers

Darenth Valley Photography A Shoreham photographic studio that specialises in portrait photography with both studio and location shoots.

Mike Turner Photography is a team that specialises in family, pet and makeover portraiture, but also provides wedding and commercial services.