creative portrait photography technique

Using a little creative portrait photography technique means thinking outside of the box. You can take traditional "safe" portrait poses of your subject first. Then get a little creative. Here are 5 techniques to make your portrait photography stand out.

backlit portrait

This is an interesting portrait portrait created by one single light source behind the subject. Combined with the library environment, it's an intriguing story telling pose that reveals something about the interests of the subject being photographed.

portrait technique 1 - find good backgrounds 

Backgrounds can make or break a photograph. Look for backgrounds that either have very little detail and distractions or that have patterns or texture that go with your subject.

fence background

With this sibling portrait, the background chosen has a repeating pattern that doesn't detract from the subject. Try backgrounds that are simple. Dark solid colors tend to be less distracting than well lit backgrounds with bright colors.

technique  2 - use reflections

Reflection portrait

We did this high school senior photo session in the dance studio. I noticed the shiny reflectiveness of the polished floor, so I thought I would have some fun with it.

I posed her arms in such a manner so her the arms and their reflections did not lead your eye out of the frame.

My senior was dressed in black, so only the flesh tones reflected on the floor, creating an interesting dynamic of composition. Smooth surfaces like water, windows, mirrors and polished floors can all be used to get this effect.


technique 3 - tell a story

Portrait Photography Technique - 4 - Have Your Portrait Tell a Story

I get the chance to do a lot of Beach Photography and I like to use the reflection technique when the water is just right.

Sometimes having the picture tell a story instead of being a standard pose makes it a unique shot. I directed my beach family of five to walk slowly away from me.

I often shoot quite a few frames with my subject walking toward me as well as away from me. The other important thing to watch for is the height of your subjects.

In the beach portrait sample above, the photography pose I used is called the "M" pose. This particular portrait photography technique works well with family portrait photography when you have 2 adults and three children.

If you draw an imaginary line starting from left to right, from one head to another, you have written a capital M. Having one or both of the adults on an end would make it an unbalanced composition would be a posing mistake.

Photography Portrait Tips. In addition to these portrait techniques, here is another photography article with portrait tips. This one, giving tips on posing an individual's portrait, has photo examples to make each point.

Photography Lighting Equipment.  Portrait photography lighting is also very important.  This article talks about the different lighting systems available and the different characteristics of each type of lighting equipment

Books about Portrait Photography Technique

It's no doubt, you can find a lot of free information on techniques for creative portrait photography. Hey, that's what you;re getting on this website.

But what about buying a traditional, old fashioned book about portraits? There's something to be said about having a printed book on your shelf, easily accessed and held in your hands.

You can search reviews on eBooks or printed books on portrait photography and add to your knowledge and skill set. Why buy when you can get it for free? Two reasons.



  1. It's a different experience. Just like reading a book printed novel on paper is different than reading it on a Kindle or a Nook. Screen resolutions are absolutely great these days, no doubt. But there is something unique about seeing and feeling the physical pages in your hands as you read and explore a physical copy of a book.
  2. Finding bookmarks in a book is faster. I have several books in both printed and Kindle versions and it's so much easier to flip through physical pages to your bookmarks than it is to find a digital bookmark. And who doesn't like to save time looking for something? 

Shoot more photos. Shoot better photos.



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