Photography Portrait Tips

Photography Portrait Tips

Find out why you should throw out all your portrait photography textbooks with the complicated lighting diagrams. Here, you can find photography portrait tips for posing and lighting that are tailored to the individual.

Portraits Tailored to Individual Faces

Why would I suggest that you throw out all your portrait lighting books and lighting diagrams?

photography portrait tips
© Julie Waterhouse

The problem is that these books often fail to take into account the fact that every human subject is unique. Our faces are all different. As such, the best place to put the lights and camera varies according to the face you are shooting. Lighting diagrams are formulaic, and don’t take into account individual differences. A few photography portrait tips on posing and lighting that concentrate on faces are all you need to get started making great portraits.


The first thing to realize is that symmetry is perceived to be beautiful.  Many studies have shown that we find symmetrical faces more attractive than asymmetrical ones.  That means that anything we can do as a photographer to make our subject’s face appear more symmetrical will make for more pleasing portraits.



Making faces attractive is big business. Every year, Americans spend over $13 billion on cosmetic surgery and tens of billions on cosmetics and beauty products. As a photographer, you can have a slice of the pie! You will have greater success in your business if you learn a few portrait techniques that enhance your subject’s natural beauty, and make them appear more attractive — without any extra products or radical surgery. You can become the master of illusion!

The other major factor that contributes to our perception of attractiveness is "averageness" of the face. By that, I don’t mean a dull and boring face, but rather one that is free from irregularities or distinctive features. This means that minimizing those irregularities through the poses you choose will improve your portraits.

Read about how to pose your subject to make their face appear more symmetrical and regular.

Read about how to light your subject to make them appear slimmer and more attractive.

My thanks to professional photographer Rob Davidson for teaching me this perspective on portrait photography.




Next, I recommend you read this inspiring article by Larry Monczka on creative portrait photography technique.