Photo Portrait and Head Shot with tips and tricks

photo portrait and head shot

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.

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.

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.

Credit for feature image:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *