Prep for Portrait Photography



I have wanted to try out portrait photography – but that requires having another person, who is not myself. So I have done some asking I have two tentative models, so I will prepare for either of them. I will make use of the tips from the pdf Corla shared with me (you can view it at the bottom of an older blog post of mine) as well as the verbal tips she gave me (fill the frame, shoot so they are not staring into direct light, and look down on the subject or at least never up – more flattering).

I am also going to explore the web and see what other tips I can get. Some areas I have brainstormed are:

How do I take multiple fast photos on my camera? (Look up LG G4 features)

Answer: Press and hold the shutter button for “burst” (repeated) photos. That simple! I tried it and it works in manual and auto mode. Selfie camera takes slow repeated, and back-facing camera takes a stop-motion view of photos. (If I have my finger on it for 5 seconds I get like 20 photos.)

How do I take multiple photos if I am using my remote shutter button?

Answer: I tested it and holding the button down did, in fact, work for “burst” photos. Woohoo!

How do I turn the “click” sound off of my phone? (To make models less self conscious?)

Answer: Turn down phone volume and the camera sound will disappear too. (Duh.)

How do I help pose my models’ faces and bodies? / Any tips?

What I learned from Schultz Photography School:

  • Fill the frame with your main subject (don’t make it too cluttered and include other things, even if they are pretty)
  • Don’t be afraid to cut off part of your subject (this kind of goes against the earlier advice, but since the main focus is the features of the subject’s face – it is OK to let other parts go so the face can be the centre of attention)
  • Rule of thirds still applies (have subject’s eye on the top left or right crosshair intersection of thirds)
  • Use “Better Perspective” – meaning for headshots have the camera at eye level, for waist-up have the camera at chest level, and for full body have the camera at waist level (for kids this would mean getting low – but for my models, it will actually mean getting higher because they are taller than me)
  • Have a blurry background to create contrast from the subject (do this by zooming in digitally, by having the camera close to the subject’s face, and also by having the subject at least 5 big steps away from a background)
  • Angle the shoulders (don’t have them square to camera) to slim the body (and fit more into the frame!)
  • Ask model to move their face so their chin is pointing to their front shoulder (to avoid high chins, looking out of the corner of their eyes because their face is not centred, etc.)
  • Try to find soft light (big sources – or shade/darkness away from hard lights)

If I follow these tips I should get portraits like the photos showcased in the Schultz link above. Now these are done with natural lighting, so I will combine this with the learning I had on event photography (a relatively low shutter speed and higher ISO) and will make sure I plan out positioning with the lights in the room.

One model I will be photographing is oldER, and so I thought it would be good to explore tips for models who are not… well… kids! This site helped, and I found these tips particularly useful:

  • Shoot them acting casual (try to take shots without them even being aware – catch them how they naturally are, because if they are getting ready to pose they may look shy or overly formal, etc.)
  • Shoot them happy/playful/thinking of memories (try to have a conversation as you are shooting)
  • Like Schultz stresses, find natural light

Lastly I wanted to share this video. The main things I took from these tips are to not hide the face/jawline, and to bring legs together (cross over) if part of them are cropped off in the photo.

Lastly this webpage had great tips on how to avoid glare from glasses. This should be helpful.

How do I fill the frame with my models? (Google professional portraits)

How much background do I include? What kind of clothing is best to photograph?


  • I plan to photograph my model at the Lyric, on the chaise lounge in the front area
  • If it is daylight out, I would ask the model to sit against the armrest facing sideways, so the sunlight (coming in through the class front doors) would not hit her directly in the face
  • If it is nighttime, I will bring my lamp with my natural daylight bulb (I knew my hermit crabs’ expensive equipment would have a dual purpose eventually…) and see what we can do to brighten up the front room (as it can get quite dark at night – not a lot of lighting)
  • To try out the blurry background I may ask my model to lean against the chaise lounge, standing, so the camera can see past the model to the length of the chair, with the far wall in the distant background (can’t explain it well – you will just have to wait to see how it turns out)
  • Ask the model if there is anything she would like to have with her in the photograph (could help in creating a natural photo, if I get her to explain it to me)

Thoughts the day before prep:

I Googled more tips and examples of poses I can recreate. I pinned different possible posing ideas to a board and will choose from them for inspiration:

Portrait Photography Board

I have also been using this bulletin board on Padlet to track actual articles about posing. Some new tips I found:

This site gave me these tips for photographing “unphotogenic” people:

  • If they have a chiseled face (which she does) you can try facing the camera head on (no side turn)
  • Have the face down and neck out
  • Arms off of the body to show the waist
  • Angle legs to the side when sitting
  • Angle waist and square shoulders to slim waist
  • Don’t wear a white shirt
  • Use Scotch tape over flash to make it softer
  • Angle camera down so model has to look up
  • Tip head towards a higher shoulder to appear feminine (a lower shoulder looks more masculine)

Furthermore, here is a photo (which I can show to my model) that gives a nice summary of how to be photogenic…

Photogoddess’ post on this forum suggested asking the model to pose how they want, but taking photos as they are adjusting, because that is where you will see their natural selves. (I haven’t given up on the idea that she may be unphotogenic because she is trying too hard to pose.)

This website has great quick tips to try. For example put your tongue on the roof of your mouth to lose a double chin. Look slightly above the natural line of site (upwards) and it does not have to be at the camera. They also discuss how whatever you want largest (and most noticeable) to be closest to the camera. I will ask her what she wants accentuatec and hidden and ask her to pose accordingly.
Lastly this website explains that your model can be looking at or away from the camera but there should be purpose to where they are looking. They say looking right at the camera could be confrontational and uncomfortable so, because in most of the photos I have seen of her she is looking at the camera, I will have her looking at other things. I will experiment with having the object in and out of the frame. Ie she will hopefully bring her ukelele and I can photograph her looking at that. I can also have her staring at the downtown street out the windows (long distance gaze).

Also Trish, my friend from Flickr has stressed the idea of purpose and telling a story with what you shoot. My purpose will be to take a variety of photos that make my model look flattering (because she is convinced she does not look good in photos) and it is important to stick to that idea, because as a person I do tend to wander and “stretch” my purposes. I have to stay focused!


I have a wealth of info and now I need to narrow it down to a few things I want to focus on so that neither me or my model get overwhelmed. I would like to think I will remember a lot of my learning as I go but I will choose a few points to focus on and then reflect on when I post photos. I will print this whole blog out to bring with me, and am highlighting in different colours for sitting, standing, and either-or tips. I specifically want to have these photos with me to refer back to:

Image result for fanny ardant


4 thoughts on “Prep for Portrait Photography

  1. Wow! I never thought of professionally learning how to take better pictures on my phone. Which is weird since thats my main mode of taking pictures. I’m excited to see how your shoot turns out and how it compares to more typically professional cameras!


  2. Pingback: Gearing Up For More Double Exposure | Taylor Harder's Teaching Blog

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