Tag Archives: portrait photography

eBook Review: Portrait Tips and Techniques

Portraits… a very broad topic with deep technical and artistic aspects. A portrait photographer must have control and understanding of the subject, surroundings, light, and camera in order to create images with impact. This is generally the case in any type of photography, but portraits demand a higher level of control.

Educating yourself on the subject of portraiture can be difficult because of the inherent technical material. But with the right teacher or author, this material can be absorbed with minimal pain to the brain.

Volume 1 of Wayne Radford’s Portrait Tips and Techniques is a book that covers the many aspects of black & white natural light portraiture (and the material applies to color portraits as well). The lessons and teachings are somewhat technical, but the material is presented in a “down to Earth” fashion that anybody can understand. You can download an 8 page sample of the eBook here [PDF].

Check the end of this review for your chance at a free copy of the full version!

[tweetmeme]You can purchase Volume 1 of Portrait Tips and Techniques from Wayne Radford’s website. Links in this post are affiliate links to the product.


Portrait Tips and Techniques, Volume 1 is a 126 page downloadable eBook containing 4 main chapters encompassing 10 distinct lessons. The end of the book also contains a selection of sample work from the author and a couple of clean and concise guides to facial analysis and lighting. And the supporting graphics… this book has over 90 great sample shots, diagrams, and charts. Click on the images below for a larger view.

The book starts off with an introduction from the author in addition to some extra background material on his journey as a portrait photographer. Then we jump into “Facial Recognition”, or posing techniques for your subjects. The next main section is “Lighting Techniques”, all of which are in the realm of natural light. The last two chapters cover “Exposure” and “Composition” as they relate specifically to portraits. The book wraps up with a sample gallery of work from Wayne Radford and two single-page charts for lighting and posing (very handy).

Throughout the book, sample images and illustrations are used to convey the lessons found in the text. Wayne also deconstructs his photos to convey a particular technique and show how it was used to create that photo. All in all, this is a very visual guide.


Wayne Radford is an Australian professional portrait photographer specialising in Black & White, and he’s been doing it for over 25 years. While he’s done his fair share of weddings, in 2000 Wayne switched over exclusively to children’s environmental portraiture.

Throughout his career he has received numerous State and National awards for his unique style of photography including the Australian Professional Photography Awards category; “1996 Wedding Photographer of the Year” at both National and State judging. In addition he also received the classification of “Master of Photography”. On two occasions he has won the “Highest Scoring Black & White Print” at these awards.

You can see some of Wayne’s work on his Radford Photography website and on Flickr. For his non-portrait work, also check out his Radford Editions website.


This is a wonderful, educational, and inspirational book on the topic of portrait photography. I love the fact that it focuses on natural light techniques and uses black & white images for illustration. It’s direct, focused, and it cuts out the extra fluff and off-topic discussion.

This would be a great book for two types of photographers: those wanting to learn portraits from the ground up, and those wanting to add more to their existing knowledge of portraiture. Either way, this book will certainly step up your game.

You can purchase Volume 1 of Portrait Tips and Techniques for $19.95 until December 20, at which point it will return to the regular price of $24.95. (the image says Dec 12, but the end date is really Dec 20)


[UPDATE 11/22/2010] The winners have been chosen. You can see the results here.

Of course you do! I’ve got 3 copies of the eBook to hand out and we’ll run this as a simple raffle in the comments below. Here are the rules:

  • One entry per person.
  • Leave a comment with the word “freebook” in there somewhere.
  • Do it on or before 11/19/2010.

After the deadline, I’ll pull 3 random numbers and see if the corresponding comments have the word “freebook” in them. If not, I’ll pull additional numbers until 3 winners have been chosen.

16 Examples of Extraordinary Model Portraits

My near-future adventure into the world of photographing models has my gears turning, and I’ve been looking for examples of extraordinary model portraits. A lot of stuff I found out there is somewhat generic with lighting and pose — and maybe because that’s what works for the client. But as an art photographer, I felt a little empty with that kind of stuff. So I went in search of some extraordinary model photography.

What I found was that I’m most attracted to the portraits that stand out from the rest. The really unique stuff. I also found that the unique qualities can come from either the models themselves or the photographers. And when you combine a unique and talented model with a unique and talented photographer, you get magic.

The following selection of photos come from a mix of professional and amateur photographers. The models in the shots might also be a mix of professionals, amateurs, friends, and even the photographer taking the photo. Do note: a couple of the photos below are quite informal and the subject is not a model, but I included them because they are good examples of what could be done in a formal portrait situation.

You can also see my Flickr Gallery here.

Day One Hundred Forty One
Creative Commons License photo credit: Dustin Diaz

Creative Commons License photo credit: Luc D

First time with a Hasselblad
Creative Commons License photo credit: Carlo Nicora

Creative Commons License photo credit: checkmezov

Andreas Tilliander Makes His Move
Creative Commons License photo credit: Aeioux

Her Tangible Dream •.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Felipe Morin

Jesús Hidalgo10
Creative Commons License photo credit: Esther Marí

mallard pinup
Creative Commons License photo credit: MadMannequin

{ you're the only one !! }
Creative Commons License photo credit: graphistolage

Coleção Geometologia - Neandro Ferreira
Creative Commons License photo credit: André-Batista

Creative Commons License photo credit: Akbar Simonse

Creative Commons License photo credit: Carolina Parragué

The third eye
Creative Commons License photo credit: Tywak

Collab5 (Picture II)
Creative Commons License photo credit: TNT Photo

Oriol Lopez Sanchez 01 © studio.es
Creative Commons License photo credit: Vincent Boiteau

Let The Curtain Come Down
Creative Commons License photo credit: Gabriela Camerotti

Do you have any good examples of model portraits or other posed portraits? Feel free to drop your photos into the comments below. And if you have any favorites from fellow photographers, leave a link so we can check it out!

eBook Review: The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography

The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography

In my opinion, portraits can be the most interesting photos and they seem to naturally draw our attention. Why? I think we’re programmed to enjoy looking at photos of other people. Every person is different and we’re naturally curious about those we see in photos. In fact, I’ve often thought that the most important element of a photo is the human element.

As a photographer, you may already know that portraits are also one of the most difficult photos to pull off. Working with people and capturing them in a way that conveys their true beauty is not as simple as pushing a button. Portraits can be created in so many different ways that it is impossible to learn it all from a short article.

The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography is a collection of stand-alone lessons on various aspects of portrait photography. This eBook (PDF format electronic book) covers everything from technical to inspirational, and the information contained is top notch and well written.

You can purchase The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography from digital Photography School. Links in this post are affiliate links to the product — It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but I get a cut of the sale.


The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography is a 78 page downloadable eBook containing 25 lessons in portrait photography. The 3 column layout is incredibly clean, easy to read, and flows naturally. Photos are scattered throughout as supporting material or examples to the lesson. Each lesson is written as a stand-alone topic typically 3 or 4 pages long.

The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography Example Page

The sections provide the essential learnings for the topic at hand. The idea is that you can read through one or two sections, soak it in, try out what you’ve learned, and go back to another section when you have time. There’s no need to read the entire book cover to cover before applying what you’ve learned — in fact, I wouldn’t even suggest doing so. There’s so much in this book that most of us wouldn’t be able to take it all in at once.

To give you an idea of what the book contains, some of the sections include: photographing children – composition, how to photograph people when travelling, environmental portraits, a fresh look at depth of field, portrait photography’s power posing, the human side of photography, 11 tips for better candid photography, shooting like a pro on a budget, and lots of other good stuff. So you can see that the topics are widely varied — some instructional, some inspirational, and some in between.

And as a bonus, the end of the book contains interviews with 6 very different professional photographers. They lay down all sorts of great insight and inspiration too. The photographers include David Duchemin, Neil Creek, Jack Hollingsworth, Kris Krug, Chase Jarvis, and Bert Stephani.

Darren Rowse


Darren Rowse is the primary author and editor of the eBook. He’s also the mastermind at the wheel of digital Photography School. Over 15 of the 25 sections of the eBook were written by Darren. The remaining articles were authored by various contributors including Natalie Norton, Christina N Dickson, Nathan Marx, Alexis Godschalk, James Pickett, and Neil Creek.


Truly a great resource. I don’t know how else to say it! This is definitely more than a random collection of articles or a typical book. It’s really a resource that you can learn from, explore, and go back to as needed. You may not need every single lesson today, but most of the sections contain usable information and instruction for a large percentage of photographers out there.

Whether you’re shooting informal family pictures or professional portraits, you’ll likely find new things in this eBook. The content seems to be geared mainly toward intermediate/advanced amateurs looking to step it up a notch, but the voice of the writing is accommodating to beginners too. And even professionals need to keep learning new things in order to keep up with the times — I’m sure they can find a few nuggets of wisdom in there.

Highly recommended for any photographer interested in learning more about portrait photography. You can purchase The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography for $14.95 until December 1, at which point it will return to the regular price of $19.95.


Darren is providing a copy of The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography for 2 lucky winners here on Epic Edits! Here’s how you can get yours:

1) Submit a photo and/or link to a portrait you’ve taken. The photo must be your own. Bonus points for supplemental descriptions.


2) Submit a Flickr Gallery of portraits. Curate a gallery and pop the link in the comments below. Bonus points for supplemental thoughts within the gallery and/or comment.

OK, so get your entries in soon! One entry per person. I’ll choose and announce the winners on (or near) December 2, 2009 — one winner for a personal photo, and one for a gallery. If, for some reason, we happen to have no entries from one of the categories, I’ll choose two winners from the category that has entries.

[UPDATE 12/3/2009] Contest winners have been posted.

13 Alternative Flower Photography Tips

Flowers are so cliche when it comes to photography… but that doesn’t stop most of us from shooting them! Heck, some photographers even specialize in flower photography and they do a darn good job of it. If you’re getting bored with your current bag-o-tricks for photographing flowers, scan through these tips and get inspired to try something different.


Flower photos are generally full of vibrant colors, but that’s not the only way to do it. Black and white flower photos can bring much needed attention to details and textures that would otherwise be masked by the blinding colors.

let's craft the only thing we know into surprise
Creative Commons License photo credit: linh.ngân


The flowers don’t always need to be the center of attention. Use them as a foreground or background to lay down some color for your main subject. Bonus points for using complimentary colors in your composition.

Creative Commons License photo credit: creativesam


Flowers are inside too! Not every flower photo needs to be 100% “natural” — try your hand at some still life.

3 sisters
Creative Commons License photo credit: mamako7070


Flowers can make for pretty cool double exposures. Experiment with combinations of up-close and far-off shots of the same flowers.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Maco@Sky Walker


Flowers have great curves — so use that to your advantage. A good macro setup will allow you to capture abstract images of the colors, curves, and textures.

monstera deliciosa flower
Creative Commons License photo credit: nothing


Reflection can be a powerful composition technique, and flower photography is no exception.

Balboa Pond Lily part deux.
Creative Commons License photo credit: peasap


Reflections are a type of symmetry, but flowers often exhibit another type of symmetry: radial. Use the radial symmetry of most flowers to create a strong composition.

Creative Commons License photo credit: josef.stuefer


Light painting is another interesting style of photography, so why not mix it up with flower photography?

Night Flower
Creative Commons License photo credit: Brian Auer


That’s right, catch a bug in your frame. Those little insects can often add a lot to your image by catching the eye of the viewer. Anything unexpected will generate interest.

ladybug on gerbera
Creative Commons License photo credit: Vanessa Pike-Russell


Sometimes you have to get a little dirty to get the shot. Macro photographers will often wear grungy clothes for nature outings (or bring a blanket/tarp) because they know they’ll be laying on the ground at some point. Get down there and see how the world looks from the perspective of your feet.

Under the Tulips
Creative Commons License photo credit: ♥siebe ©


Flowers grow in cities too! Next time you’re in an urban environment, keep your eyes peeled for flowers growing naturally or even landscaped flowers.

urban life
Creative Commons License photo credit: Pedro Moura Pinheiro


Most of us have seen these types of photos with the flower inside the dewdrop. Still, it’s a pretty cool trick and you can do it with more than just flowers.

Day 45/365 : All the world in a little droplet
Creative Commons License photo credit: ~jjjohn~


If you’re doing people shots or portrait photography, try adding flowers as a secondary subject or background.

Boy taking a rest. (DGM)
Creative Commons License photo credit: Simon Pais-Thomas

Do you have any flower photography tips or examples? If so, leave them in the comments below!

31 Lessons in Portrait Photography

The December Challenge

December 2007 was a busy month for me — mostly because I decided to participate in Trevor Carpenter’s December Challenge. The challenge was to take a portrait every day for the entire month. I’ve never committed to something like that before, so I had no idea what I was in for. Taking a portrait was on the top of my priority list every day, and I brought my camera everywhere with me.

You can see more details about each photo below and the person in the photo by clicking on it. You can also see all of the photos in my December Challenge Flickr set. This was a great experience, and I’d like to thank Trevor for leading the pack on this. I’d also like to thank him for giving me an extra push to take portraits of strangers — it turns out that people really aren’t so bad!

Trevor has also put together a wonderful recap of the entire event on his site. Don’t forget to check it out! We had over 35 photographers participate in this challenge, and Trevor has highlighted their efforts quite nicely. And don’t forget to check out Trevor’s new blog “PhotoChallenge.org” where he’ll be hosting more of these great projects!

Here’s a list of the key learnings from each portrait I took during the December Challenge.

Candice Auer


I must have taken over 100 photos of Candice within about 15 minutes. Some were setup, thought-out, and posed — while others were taken on rapid fire mode while she was laughing, talking, or making faces at me. Most of the rapid fire photos didn’t turn out very good, but this one turned out awesome. I happened to catch her on the return from a face she was making at me, but it turned out looking pretty natural and relaxed.

Brian Auer


They’re probably even better if they’re older than 4. I had my son help me out by providing me with a focus target each time I had to setup the 5 self portraits. It worked out OK, but it could have gone faster if he wasn’t so hyper. Most of the shots I took were slightly off-focus in one direction or the other. The other thing I learned: self portraits are hard.

Mark Stabb


Overall, this photo turned out pretty decent as an executive head-shot type of photo, but the background bothers me a little bit. I don’t know if it would look any better, but if I had lowered myself another 6-12 inches I probably would have had the blue/green portion filling the background. Then again, the window’s edge gives the photo more sense of place by being less uniform than a cookie-cutter studio backdrop.

Rex Auer


If I would have known I only had a 10 minute window to work with this model, I would have worked a lot faster. After 1 picture he’s like “OK, I’m gonna go play now”. I convinced him that we should take a few more so we could try different things, but that wore off quickly. In just a few minutes he gives me the “You just get 3 more Dad, and then I’m done.” I tell you what, I had to make those 3 shots count. I ended up using the very last shot of the session.

Richard Santini


This one was kind of a different situation, but I only took a single photo and hoped it would turn out alright. I’m actually surprised at how well it did turn out, but I would have liked to taken a few more from different angles and with different lighting. Moral of this photo: don’t ask a photographer on the job right after sunset to pose for a portrait and expect to get more than one shot from it.

Doug Crimaldi


After taking a few shots of Doug with the flash, I realized that he had his eyes closed in every shot. At that point he informed me that he tends to do that with flash photography. So I took a few more to test it out. Sure enough, he couldn’t keep his eyes open during the flash. So rather than throwing out all the shots and trying to get something without the flash, I decided to make light of the situation by posting all of the photos as a single image. Sometimes you just have to look at a bad situation from a different angle.

Paul Meissner


If I had to choose any type of stranger to photograph, I’d choose a photographer. I found that I’m more comfortable around them because they know what it’s like to be the one looking through the viewfinder. You don’t have to feel overbearing when you aim that SLR at them. Not only that, but the model then becomes a collaborator for things like lighting and composition, making your job even easier!



Before I took this photo, I had walked up and down the beach several times in search of a subject. It seemed like the harder I looked, the more difficult it became to see anybody as a feasible candidate for the portrait. So I stopped, sat down, and started watching people as they walked by. It didn’t take long before I saw Lauron and his lady-friend walking toward me. I approached them as they neared me, and Lauron was more than willing to pose for a portrait. Piece of cake.



I really didn’t feel like going out and trying to find another person for a portrait — in fact, I didn’t really want to pick up the camera. So rather than force myself out the door with camera in hand, I decided to go with another self-portrait. With a project like this, if all else fails you’ve always got at least one model that can pose for a portrait. Self portraits are always interesting to me because they’re typically captured in an unconventional manner.

Cachaulo VanLaanen


If all you have to work with is an empty hallway, do something interesting with it. Use the tools you have to create a reality that’s different than the one your own eyes can see. In this case, I used a super-wide angle lens to make a typical hallway look extra lengthy. Due to the distortion characteristics of the lens, I had to compose the hallway in a certain manner so that the distorted reality was only where I wanted it — specifically, I positioned the corners of the walls at the corners of the frame to avoid the pincushion distortion.

Cole Constantineau


This photo had a cool perspective, but the office lighting was terrible. I was forced to use a flash, but I should have been more creative with diffusing it. I bounced it off the ceiling and I used an Omni-Bounce, but the direct lighting was still a bit harsh and it left a few shadows. I should have grabbed a big piece of paper from one of the printers and held it over the flash to help diffuse the light.

Sarah Presley


The reflection in this shot is so strong because of the window tint and because of the direct sunlight. But that direct sunlight caused some extra shadows on Sarah’s face, and it made the appearance of skin grooves that weren’t really there — especially those around her mouth. These types of shadows make people look much older than they really are (I caught some grief at work for making her look “old”).

Nick Norris


When I starting photographing Nick, he had his sunglasses and hat on as shown in this photo. After a few shots we tried some without the sunglasses to mix things up a little bit. When I reviewed the photos, the shots without the sunglasses weren’t bad, but they weren’t as cool as the ones with the sunglasses. They kind of added some extra character and a little mystery to the subject by blocking out the most telling feature on a person’s face… the eyes.

The Auers


Taking a self-family portrait can be pretty hectic with a couple of little kids on board. It took us forever to get ourselves together and in the car — arms packed with the camera bag, tripod, cups, drinks, toys, books, etc. The one thing we (by that, I mean “I forgot”) was the blanket to sit on. So rather than give up on the picture, Candice suggested that we sit on a log that was nearby. It turned out that forgetting the blanket was the best mistake of the day. The log added much more to the scene than any blanket would have.

Three of Me


Shooting yourself is a difficult task. You have to worry about focus, framing, lighting, and of course there’s always the fact that we’re more critical of ourselves in photos that other people ever will be. It took me nearly 100 shots to get a set I liked well enough for this photo. The hardest part was making sure not to move the camera or the mirror during the shoot.

Bailey Auer


Kids make for some great shots, but they’re super hard to work with as a model. They do their own thing, and you typically just have to catch them at the right moment. I followed Bailey around for a couple of hours as we went to the park to burn off some energy. I got several good shots out of it, but they were all “lucky shots” rather than totally planned.

Aaron Costello


Working with adults is a little easier to get the pose and positioning you want. I had this scene in my head for days before the shoot. But when it came time to executing it, things didn’t come out exactly as I had envisioned. I think I came close, but that was only possible because Aaron was willing to be patient with different poses while I snapped away.

Rex Auer


For this one, I had planned on getting a nice tightly cropped head-shot of Rex. He’s sort of a spaz, so that didn’t happen. I pretty much gave up on the idea and I just started shooting as he messed around in front of the camera. I got this one and I liked it, so I asked him to do it again. Not a chance.

Robert Lawson


In this one, Robert knew that I was taking pictures of him — I asked him if I could. But rather than have him pose for a shot, I decided to get something in-context by shooting periodically as he worked in his office. I wanted to get the reflection from his window and get two slightly different perspectives of him.



I didn’t have a real plan with this one. I just walked into the gas station and asked if I could take a portrait. He said “sure, where do you want me?” Immediately, the cigarettes on the wall jumped out as an interesting pattern. I guess if I had to do it over again, I’d pull Carlos away from the wall a bit to get more blur on the background — it’s a little too busy.

Drew Verkade


This was a nice scene, but it would have been impossible to shoot without the convenience of a door into the hallway. I was using my 105mm macro, so I needed to be pretty far back. If I couldn’t get outside of the room like that, this shot would’ve been much more tightly cropped. A 50mm lens would have been ideal for capturing the same scene from within the room.



When I shot this, I wanted to get the rich and vibrant colors of the produce in the shot. The problem was that the colors were way too powerful and they actually detracted from the main subject of the image. Not only that, but the lighting in the store made several of the colors (especially the bananas) become oversaturated and lose detail. So to bring the colors back in check, I actually desaturated the entire photo a bit.



I pretty much shot this one in the dark, so I had to use ISO3200 to pick up enough light to make an image. I knew it would be grainy, but I think this photo really benefits from it. It seems to add some extra character and complexity to the subject. I think it also helps out the background by adding some texture to the mid-tones and breaking things up a bit. Overall, I’m really happy that I shot this at such a high ISO and converted to black and white.

Captain Barbossa


Here, I had an opportunity to get to know somebody a little better. But I was in such a hurry that I literally forgot to ask him about himself. I think the main reason I was in a hurry was that he was working while I took his photo. He was one of the guys running the line at Blockbuster, so I didn’t want to piss off everybody else by taking him away from the register for too long.

William Auer


This one was totally by chance and luck of timing. Not only was my Grandpa sitting in a compelling pose, but the light was coming right through the windows and beaming down on him. I jumped a the opportunity to capture this hard-lit scene and turn it into a black and white. Nice soft lighting is great most of the time, but sometimes a good hard light can really bring out the details that wouldn’t otherwise be there.

Daniel Devenport


Daniel was a real character. I actually took this shot before I even talked to him. He was in the middle of giving me a hard time for taking his picture. So rather than turning my back and running off, I approached him and showed him the shots. We ended up sitting there and talking for over half an hour. Meanwhile, my photowalking buddies had made their way down the rest of Hollywood Blvd. I think it was worth it, he was a cool guy with lots to say.

Bailey and Rex


In this one, I was intending to just take a picture of Bailey, but Rex would have none of that. He managed to get himself in there before I could get any solo shots. So I tried coaxing him to be a part of the picture in a good way, but all I got was the gymnast pose on the backside of the handrail. Looking back at it, I think he actually adds an interesting aspect to the photo by posing the way he did.

Elephant Boy


This took FOREVER to capture! The zoo was… a zoo to say the least. I had to shoot this from across a major pathway and there was always some group of people walking between us. Not only that, but I had to deal with the pedestrians who refuse to just walk in front of the camera as a courtesy. Seriously people, we know you’re there, just move on so we can get our shot — don’t sit there and wait for me to take the picture!



When we hear “portrait” we generally think people. But I tend to believe that portraits can be of subjects that aren’t human too. Dogs are really interesting and people love them, so a portrait of a dog is sure to please. Just be careful when shooting with a wide angle lens. I nearly had a wet-nose encounter with the front element of my lens — they’re very curious and they like to sniff new things.

The Giraffe


I chose the location for this portrait based on the texture and color of the subject. I thought that the yellowish sand would go well with the yellow material of the giraffe. Then I processed this photo to really bring out those textures and force them to compliment each other more than they would have with a “natural” processing.

Yesenia Barbosa


This one turned out pretty good, but I can’t help but kick myself for not shooting a couple more with different flash settings. I ended up blowing out some highlights because of the flash, and it was a real pain to get some of the detail back into the photo without making it look weird. Again, diffusing the flash a little more probably would have been a good idea too.


This was a great project to work on. Portraits have never been my strong suit, so this was a real eye-opener on just how difficult it is. So if you’re ever encouraged to participate in something like this — do it without hesitation, and the rewards will be more than you had ever expected.

16 Inspirational Portrait Photography Techniques

I’m learning that portrait photography can be tough in more than one way thanks to my participation in the December Challenge. I’m already getting bored with taking the standard cookie-cutter portrait, so I started digging around Flickr for some inspiration. Here’s what I turned up:

[tweetmeme]And yes, I realize that the accompanying text is much shorter than I would usually supply, but the idea of this post isn’t to teach these techniques — it’s to introduce you to them and hopefully give you some inspiration with your own photography. I feel that these photos are strong enough to stand on their own without lengthy descriptions.

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If you’re good with post-processing and manipulations, use it to your advantage. Get crazy with the adjustments, try some new Photoshop techniques, and maybe even a composite image.


If texture is a big part of your subject, make it stand out and make it obvious. Match up the textures between your subject and your background. You might even try texturizing the entire photo for additional impact.


Blowing out the highlights or making a high-key image makes a nice soft portrait with kind of a light airy feeling. Another advantage of high-key photos is that the smaller details and defects are blown away, making the image look much smoother.


A dominantly dark or low-key image will naturally draw your eyes to the lighter parts. These tend to have a grittier and harder look to them than the high-key images.


Hair lights up like crazy when it’s back-lit, so if hair is a big part of your subject make it stand out by placing your subject between you and a light source. You could also take this a little further and push the image to a silhouette.


Get crazy with the pose and positioning — extra points if it looks uncomfortable. Not only with the poses, but also with your own positioning — shoot from different angles to achieve different impacts.


Capture the local culture — what’s mundane to you is exotic to us. Culture is everywhere, even in your own town. Just image you’re visiting from a different country — what things would then seem more interesting to you?


Make use of different surfaces to add that extra dimension — windows, mirrors, and water are all very good reflective surfaces that give a different result and texture.


Make the shadow an important part of the image. Sometimes the shadow can even be more prominent than the actual subject casting the shadow.


There’s no rule against cropping out most of the subject’s face. This draws more attention to the parts that are left in the frame.


Out-of-focus subjects can be more interesting than the in-focus subjects. It kind of adds some mystery to the image because you can’t quite make out who that person is.


Use movement to show action, even if it blurs out the subject entirely. In cases like this, think of the person as a means of creating the subject rather than being the actual subject.


Catch somebody doing something they love, even if it’s not staged. Street photography is one of my favorite genres because it captures life as it happens — unstaged and unposed.


Use vibrant and contrasting colors to draw attention to parts of your subject. This could be makeup, clothing, accessories, or whatever else you can get your hands on.


Not all portraits need to have a smile, capture the serious emotions too. Some of my favorite portraits have no hint of a smile in them, and they’re highly emotional.


Use the props and tools around you to make the setting more interesting. Find things to place your subject in, on, under, around, etc.