The keys to a successful portrait photo

13 October 2017

The keys to a successful portrait photo

The purpose of a portrait photo is to sublimate and enhance the subject. It is also an opportunity to highlight its expressions, even to interpret them, but sometimes it is not easy. Here are some tips to help you!


To successfully capture the best expression of your subject, it is important to put him/her at ease and relax. To sublimate a model is to show it at its best and in a natural way, it’s necessary to be authentic. To do this, you have to earn the trust of this person. This can only be done by making her feel comfortable: talk to her, reassure her and always stay positive. It is also advisable to have time to discuss with the person to make a certain connection. Music can also create a relaxed atmosphere for photo shoots, but nothing will replace communication.

It is also necessary to guide your model to achieve the desired portrait photo. It is up to you to put him at ease and guide him to achieve the desired result. Do not hesitate to guide him in the poses, this will give him confidence so that he can propose his own poses as he goes along.

Thanks to these methods, you should no longer see smiles or tense expressions!


Having the confidence of your model doesn’t do everything, you also have to enhance it through different techniques. First, do some quick touch-ups before you start, such as adjusting hair or clothing.

Then, it is important to choose your background carefully for a portrait photo. Prefer a very simple and plain background, unless you are looking for a particular contrast effect. Also, make sure you frame your photo correctly to highlight your model. Place it mainly in the center and frame tightly. This will create an interesting proximity effect. Cutting the forehead is a technique often used, which strengthens the eyes. Otherwise, place it in the center of its environment to highlight it, to create a contrast or even a movement effect. But in this case, it is important to focus on the eye closest to the lens, especially if it is not facing away. Creating curves and spaces on your photo can also refine your subject’s silhouette.

Finally, let us now turn to the most important element for a portrait: the gaze. It is the central and eye-catching element of your photo, the one that will provoke an emotion in the viewer. That’s why the perfect focus on the eyes is essential. Feel free to play with that to intensify your photo. Lowering the chin can also enlarge the gaze and highlight it. This of course goes hand in hand with the chosen light. Indeed, too much sun can attract a lot of shadows on your subject and compromise the photo. A more veiled or milder sun in the morning or late afternoon can therefore be flattering and bring out the colours, unless you are looking for an effect in particular. Otherwise, the use of a diffuser can be of great help. Backlighting can also have a negative effect if the settings are incorrectly made. You can use a natural reflector, such as the walls of a building, or a reflector, but it may be too powerful. In any case, avoid bright backgrounds in backlit photos.

Enhancing the person is essential for a successful shot and to achieve the desired result.


To capture the best expression, we recommend the burst mode to capture the perfect picture. Indeed, models change expression quickly and you have to be able to get the right shot at the right time. In addition, respecting the rule of third parties can be beneficial to properly frame your photos. As we said, looking at the objective is important, but you can let it look far away. In this case, do not forget to leave some space in front of his eyes, so as not to create an effect of confinement. Finally, using a wide angle can distort curves, especially if you frame tight, consider using a minimum 50mm focal length.

For your outdoor portraits, prefer a large opening, to let in more light, to have more depth of field and to highlight your model. It also creates more atmosphere and helps to soften the subject’s skin. Be careful because the focus will be more sensitive. Also, remember not to stick your subject against a wall, this encloses the model.

Let’s discuss the particularities of professional photos. All the elements we have mentioned are valid, especially the background, but the outfit is the more important for your portrait photos: choose something professional, without do too much because the important thing is to feel comfortable. The CV photo should be as natural as possible, while keeping a serious side. You can take inspiration from LinkedIn photos.

To conclude, we can only recommend that you have fun during the shootings, and why not shake up all the techniques we have mentioned! Finally, it should be remembered that the photographer’s sensitivity and experience are important in the art of portrait photography.


If you would like our professional photographers to take portrait photos for your company, do not hesitate to contact us.