Photo Portrait and Head Shot

Photo Portrait and Head Shot

Man poses with a Mike Tyson tattoo. Image by Studio 68

As a photographer, there is a great art form in taking photo portrait and head shot photography.

It’s a very popular form of photography out there, and for some it can come natural as 1,2,3 and for others it can be difficult.

There are a few things that need to be considered, as it’s not just a case of point and shoot.

I have listed below just a few thoughts and ideas on how to make that photo portrait and head shot come to life.


There is nothing worse then going on site and all of a sudden you struggle for ideas. It’s important that you spend time preparing and getting ideas of shooting those photo portraits and head shots beforehand.

Its good to have a look on the internet and get some ideas, for example, pinterest. This is a great forum of pick up about your shoot. Its not a matter of copying others, but to give you some ideas to get you along the way.

Its also a good idea to have some images downloaded on your smartphone or have some printed, so you can remind yourself at the time of the shoot.

Get subject to relax

For me, the most important thing is to make the person comfortable in front of the camera. The subject needs to be connected and relaxed to your camera lens. The whole purpose of taking that intimate head shot is to make the viewer feel the emotion and intimacy of the image.

Personally, I would ask the subject what environment he/she likes the photograph to be taken. You will notice that some people don’t feel comfortable being at the centre of attention in the studio, under lights and surrounding props.

In such cases, it’s best to photograph the subject in his/hers native environment. The photography can take place more or less anywhere outside the studio. Their work place, walking the dog or out for a simple walk in the park can be a brilliant way to shoot the photo portrait and head shot.

Small details

Although, this article is about photo portrait and head shot, you can always consider taking images at a smaller level.

If you look at my article called unusual portrait photography, you can see it doesn’t always have to be about taking photo portrait. Small details like the eye, palms or feet can be powerful and can bring out the emotions.

Rule of composition

Be daring and try different things. Although it’s advisable to follow the masters of photography and the universal composition rules, it’s also good to find your uniqueness in your photography.

Portrait of an Egyptian by Studio 68

For example, here we have a head shot of an Egyptian. Notice how I photographed it in such an intimate way, that I have cropped off the head. Now for some photographers, that would have been a no go area and would disagree with my style of composition. It works for me, as it I feel it makes the head shot more intimate and powerful.


Personally, when I am doing photo portrait and head shot, I try to avoid over editing the image in post-production. Don’t over air brush the photography, as I feel it becomes too gimmicky and fake. Keep the head shot natural.

But there is always exception to rule when you shooting glamour models in a studio. But still at times, I feel that too much over editing is done in the studio work.


It’s not always about photographing the head shot, straight on. Try to experiment with your subject and use good framing.

You can use framing in a good creative way, and this can make the photograph more interesting.

Door frames can be popular and trees. These can quite easily be wrap around the framing of the head shot.

Taking control

Always remember that you are the photographer and you need to take control of the shot. The subject at hand sometimes won’t have a clue on how to pose for you. They will be expecting you to direct them. To bring out those expressions are most important to photo portrait and head shots.

Image of Tattoo artist by Studio 68

Use simple and straight forward instructions and avoiding saying, “Cheese”. That is a little cheesy for me!


Focus on the middle of the eyes and compose the shot. There is no rush in this type of photography, as you will have a mutual understanding with the person you are photographing.

Unlike fast pace street photography, you can set the pace and shoot accordingly,

Always take 2-3 frames of each pose. Nothing worse then coming home to an image that is over exposed or the person blinked as you clicked,


The background is just as important, if not more then important then the foreground. How often you see a good subject, but the background spoils it.

Look out for plants, trees and lamp posts that come out of the persons head. You know what I am getting at?

Often backgrounds can compliment the character of the pose, person and what he/she is wearing. So think it through, as it can make a world of a difference.

These are just a few tips on how to shoot photo portrait and head shot. This is even without going into the camera settings.

So go out and enjoy taking portraits of people and find that uniqueness that stands out in your photos.

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Outdoor Portrait Photography : Useful Tips And Tricks

 outdoor portrait photography of two females having funWho hasn’t done outdoor portrait photography? When you go out there with your camera along with family or friends, sooner or later you’re bound to end up taking pictures out in the bright sun. Although it may sound like a simple task, there is more to it. You might not be getting the best results after all. In this article we aim to bring you a series of tips to keep in mind the next time you want to do some outdoor portraits.

The General problem

When amateur photographers think of outdoor portrait photography, usually they think of sunlight. However, beginners rarely understand how and when to use sunlight, the differences between direct and indirect sunlight and the advantages of shooting in foggy or cloudy weather conditions. The first thing to remember about outdoor photography is that most subjects should not be not photographed at sharp noon on a sunny day. Why you ask? Bright light from above creates hard shadows and shiny surfaces, resulting in too much contrast. This is especially problematic when photographing people, the sunlight tends to create dark shadows on the face. If the sun is low on the horizon, then you have more options. On the other hand, you can also place the object with the sun to the side or the back, creating a partial or full shade.

Here are some tips to take great pictures outdoors on a sunny day.

Use a fill flash.

We can avoid dark facial shadows by using the function or settings related to flash on your camera. Many flash drives also have this feature. Just turn on the feature in flash and the camera automatically makes the necessary adjustments.

If you do not have the Flash Fill feature, just try turning on the flash as if you’re taking photographs of interiors, it is likely to get satisfactory results if you are not too close to your subject.

Use a reflective surface.

This can be a professional, foldable, white, silver or gold reflector or a large white board. Although it is not a practical solution for taking pictures of active children, this method works great for still photography, and photographing flowers on a sunny day.

For outdoor portraits, the subject can be comfortably seated on a bench or blanket on the floor.  Then we experience the reflective surface moving around until the face is pleasantly light, placing the reflective surface just outside the picture frame. Make sure to take some photos for a good selection to choose from!

Go to a place with more shade.

It is important that your camera reads the shadows well, so that the focal point (the center of the image) points to the shaded area and not a spot of bright sunshine behind the brighter object, otherwise the subject will mostly appear as a silhouette. The shadow helps to soften the light and removes the dark shadows and rough edges.


When the sun is in front of the photographer, coming directly into the camera, we have what is known as backlighting, i.e., the subject is backlit.

This type of lighting can be very effective for people out in the bright sun. When subjects are lit from the front, there can be uncomfortable sensation which makes many squint. A backlight helps eliminate this problem.

The backlight can also require the use of a reflector or fill flash to illuminate dark shadows and improve the detail of the subject or object.  This type of lighting is also used to produce an effect of a silhouette. When a backlight is used, we must prevent the sun’s rays from falling directly on the lens (except when it comes to special effects). A hood or some other means of shading the lens should be used to prevent lens flare.

outdoor portrait photography of clown

What kind of lens do I need to use?

There are many options when it comes to the type of lens that you should use for outdoor portrait photography. Ideally, you should use lens with a larger focal length to squeeze a little perspective, which can often be more flattering. The EF 70-200mm or the Canon F2.8L, should be perfect. They are the Kings of full-frame cameras with zoom, and offer versatility that cannot be beaten, and the picture quality is simply amazing.

For those of you who are looking for prime lenses, there are plenty of good reasons why the Canon 135mm F2L is rated so high. If you are more on a budget, the Canon EF 85mm f1.8 is one of the fastest focusing lenses that is available. The yield on the sensor 50mm F1.8 is also worth a look. Do lots of research and pick the one which suits your budget the best!

Outdoor portrait photography is all about being adventurous!

Remember that some of the best outdoor shots can be captured even under adverse weather conditions. Consider how dramatic cloud formations can add interest to an ordinary landscape, or how a morning fog can change the mood of a photograph on the seashore. Go out and take pictures of storm clouds and unusual weather. Capture the beauty of the cold winter weather, as snow and ice can create wonderful possibilities when shooting portraits. Be wild and be expressive! Outdoor portrait photography is all about such an expedition, if not for anything else!

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