9 Tips for Taking Great Portraits in a Photography Studio

So you’ve finally taken the dive! You’ve bought a camera, booked a Photo Studio, and you’re ready to take some killer portraits. There’s only one problem – you’re not quite sure where to start. Don’t worry, we have 9 awesome studio photography tips for you!

While it’s always tempting to believe that taking an impactful portrait comes down to the photographer’s camera or lens, there is a lot more to taking Beautiful Portraits in a Photography Studio. To help you, MisterLocation has put together 9 Tips for Taking Great Portraits in a Photography Studio. Let’s get started!

A photo of 4 lenses to demonstrate tips for taking portraits in photography studios
Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

9 AWESOME STUDIO PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

1. CHOOSE THE RIGHT LENS

A lens affects so much more than how much you’ll capture from a given distance, and so our first tip for taking a great portrait is to choose the right lens. Sure, a 35mm lens will help you photograph an entire scene without standing so far away, but it also has a stretching effect on the final image. Not to mention, all the extra inclusions will make it harder to draw the viewer’s eye to your subject! This stretching effect, called distortion, is only an issue with wide-angle lenses. That means it can be easily avoided by shooting with a short, telephoto lens, for example, an 85mm prime lens. As well as helping you to avoid distortion, a telephoto lens will also likely result in softer focus. This will ensure the viewer’s eye is drawn immediately to the person, without being distracted by the specific details of your studio backdrop.

2. SPEAKING OF, ZOOM WITH YOUR FEET

We say zoom with your feet because our second tip for how to take great studio portraits in a photography studio is to shoot with a prime lens. Asides from the fact that prime lenses are usually higher quality than a zoom lens, by forcing yourself to move around or ‘zoom with your feet’, you’ll discover new angles and try different ways of shooting. This is especially important if you want to try your hand at more creative portraits. Using a prime lens will also ensure you leave the studio with a more consistent gallery of photos. While it can seem fun zooming in and out for every shot you take, the continually changing perspective will lead to a confusing final gallery of images!


Photo by Frank Uyt den Bogaard on Unsplash

3. TAKE YOUR TIME TO GET THE LIGHT RIGHT

We cannot stress this enough! Making the best of your lighting is crucial to taking great photographs, whether you’re in a studio or shooting in a field of flowers. After all, photography does mean ‘light painting’.

One of the significant benefits of taking portraits in a photography studio is that you are 100% in control of the light. Make the most of this! Take your time at the beginning of your portrait session to get the light right. Don’t be afraid to experiment or take your time. Not only will this mean less work in post-production, but also that your photos will be of a higher quality. Light has the power to transform an image from average to incredible. So adjust your settings and never be afraid to try something new!

If you’d like to learn about Studio Photography Lighting, check out some of the Best Online Photography Courses available in 2018!

 

4. USE A REMOTE TRIGGER (AND A TRIPOD!)

Using a remote trigger and a tripod for studio portrait shoots has become surprisingly contentious of late. Photographers often feel that a tripod hinders more than it helps. On the contrary, in a studio setting a camera set up on a tripod will allow you to play more with light, movement, and most importantly, to engage with your model.

The first reasons for using a tripod are obvious – there’s a lot more room for movement with your shutter speed if your camera is on a tripod. Perhaps if you’re photographing pets or small children, a slow shutter speed isn’t the best idea, but for regular portraits in a photography studio, it could allow you to play with movement or have more freedom with your ISO and aperture. Not to mention, you’ll be more inclined to slow down and check your photos between shots, which is very much a good thing!

As for connecting with your client, well, anyone who has ever had their photo taken knows that it can be a daunting prospect. If your camera is on a tripod and you’re using a remote trigger though, that means you can step away from the camera and focus on your subject. Talk to them, make eye contact with them. This will put them at ease and pave the way for beautiful, natural portraits.


Photo by @CVDOP Limbocker on Unsplash

5. CONNECT WITH YOUR SUBJECT

We touched a little on this already, but… CONNECT WITH YOUR SUBJECT! If there’s one key element to taking compelling portraits, in a photography studio or otherwise, it is ensuring that the subject is comfortable in front of the camera. Unless you’re working with a professional model or media personality, odds are the subject will freeze up when the lens is pointed in their direction. The easy solution here is for you to go out of your way to make them feel comfortable. Find a connection, some common ground, or a shared experience, and then build on that. In case you find yourself feeling awkward as well, or you’re not sure what to talk about, here are a few prompts:

– Ask your subject to tell you about their favorite memory
– Perhaps they have some travel plans they could tell you about?
– What’s an achievement they’re proud of?
– What are they passionate about?
– What’s something that they’ve struggled with in their life?

Of course, the prompts you use will vary depending on the emotion you want to capture but start with something easy to share and work from there. And of course, it never hurts to tell your subject again and again how wonderful they look and how beautiful the photos are. A few compliments can go a long way!

For more Tips for Posing and Prompts in Portrait Photography, check out this article about Using Shoulder Movements!

6. USE SINGLE POINT FOCUS

Without a doubt, focus is vital to creating an impactful portrait. A poorly focussed photo is one of the few things you can’t fix in post-production these days, so it’s important to get it right in-camera. Thankfully, this is easy to do – just switch over to Single Point Focus (if you haven’t done so already!). Where the automatic grid system will choose where your camera focusses for you, Single Point Focus will let you decide for yourself. Whether you choose to focus on the eyes, a small imperfection or the subject’s lips can dramatically change the mood of a portrait. So make sure you’re in control, and take the leap to Single Point Focus.


Photo by Quentin Lagache on Unsplash

7. FOCUS ON THE EYES

It’s a saying that seems as old as time itself, but the eyes are the window to the soul. One of the easiest ways to make compelling portraits, especially in a photography studio, is to focus on the subject’s eyes. There’s not much more to say really, because this tip for Portrait Photography in a Photography Studio comes down to common sense. Think about the best storytellers you know – friends who make you laugh, or who succeed in creating meaningful conversation. I’ll bet you all of them make a point of looking in your eyes while they talk to you. Focussing on the subject’s eyes when taking portraits will have the same effect.

8. MOVE IN, MOVE OUT, SHOOT UP, SHOOT DOWN

There are two critical elements to creating a photograph – exposure and composition. While there are some simple composition rules you can follow to take a decent photo, such as the rule of thirds, you shouldn’t be afraid to mix things up a little! While taking portraits, don’t be afraid to quite literally move in, move out, shoot up and shoot down! Try different angles and see what pops. The results might surprise you! At the end of the day, rules were made to be broken – especially when it comes to making art.

Why to use RAW
Photo by Rhianna May for just add…

9. SHOOT RAW, ALWAYS!

This one goes without saying, but the key to taking a good photo of anything, at any-time, is to shoot RAW. When using a high-quality camera, a user will usually be given the option to shoot in either RAW or JPEG. Where JPEG images will likely look better straight out of camera, these files tend to be very difficult to edit. This is because your camera has already ‘decided’ the color of each pixel. On the other hand, a RAW file hasn’t been compressed and so it holds much more detail. You can work with this detail to pull out colors, increase and decrease saturation, contrast and hues, or drastically adjust exposure. Don’t believe us? Try shooting a few photos in JPEG + RAW. Pull them up in your editing software of choice, and have a play with the same edits. We guarantee the difference will amaze you!

Of course, there are plenty more things you can try in the pursuit of making amazing Portraits in a Photography Studio, but these tips should get you off to an excellent start. And, of course, once you get started, you’re sure to find new approaches that work for you!

Have you tried our Portrait Photography Studio Tips? We’d love to see your work! Share it with us in the comments below, or tag us on Instagram – @misterlocation!