4 Simple Tips to Take Your Portrait Photos to the Next Level

Whether you are a business portrait photographer or an amateur who is looking to take your snaps to the next level, here are four simple tips that can help you take your portrait photos to the next level.

1. Help the subject to get comfortable.

At the end of the day, if your subject isn’t feeling comfortable in front of your camera, then your final shots are not going to have what you are looking for – no matter your style of shooting. Therefore, it is essential that you do everything that you can to help your subject feel comfortable. Before you start taking photos, spend some time talking with your model and build a rapport over a cup of tea or coffee.

Then, throughout the shoot, continue that rapport and offer them direction. As the best photographer in Dubai knows, by communicating with them about what you want and sharing ideas for how they should pose, you will help to build their confidence and assure them that they are “doing it right.” Every once in a while, stop shooting and show them some examples of the shots you have taken.

2. Know when to increase your ISO.

One of the most challenging aspects of taking photographs of people is that they tend to move around a lot, as well as continually blink and adjust themselves. This poses a significant challenge for you as the photographer, as you don’t want to end up with a series of photos featuring half-blinking or awkward facial expressions. The best way to decrease the likelihood of this happening (or motion blur appearing) is to utilize a fast shutter speed.

To control the depth of field in portraits, you want to be shooting in Aperture Priority mode. In this mode, to increase your shutter speed, simply raise your ISO (for example, from ISO100 to ISO400). However, in low light situations, your ISO may need to be increased to 1,600, 3,200, or as much as 6,400. Keep in mind that having a little bit of grain in your photo is still much preferred to a blurry snap.

3. Introduce a reflector to your gear bag.

Every portrait photographer should have a reflector in their arsenal as it is a fast and affordable method for lightening and brightening your pictures and giving them a professional look. When you are shooting inside (and near windows) or outdoors, use the reflectors to bounce light back onto your models to fill in the shadows.

There are many different types of reflectors on the market, and some even come double-sided or with removable covers. These are good ones to have as they provide you with a selection of different colored reflective surfaces. Alternatively, create your own reflector by purchasing a large sheet of white cardboard and then covering it with aluminum foil for a comparable effect.

4. Recognize when to use a flash.

While some may presume that a flash is of no use when the sun is out, the reality is that sunshine can cause a lot of issues for portrait photographers – you don’t want those harsh shadows across the subject’s face, or unbalanced exposures and burnt-out highlights in the photo.

Instead, by adding some “fill flash,” you can immediately enhance your portraits due to your camera being able to capture a more balanced exposure as the flash will illuminate the subject while the camera exposes for the background.

A flashgun tends to generate more significant results than your camera’s built-in flash, as it produces a more radiant burst of light, allowing you to use smaller apertures to obtain a substantial depth of field still. Outfitted with a flashgun (and also remote triggers), you are better equipped to work with a multitude of creative lighting set-ups.

Do you have any simple tips or tricks that help enhance portrait photos? Alternatively, do you have any specific and related challenges that you need help solving? Let us know in the comments below!


Stefanie Descheemaecker is the Studio Manager at Stu Williamson Photography at The Palm Jumeirah – Fairmont Hotel in Dubai. She has been with the company for almost 3 years and is the driving force behind the success of the business. A keen amateur photographer, Stef combines her natural creative eye with a strong business acumen to help Stu Williamson Photography become the most trusted and successful photography business in the UAE.