Portrait Photography: What to look for during a photoshoot

Portrait photography can be extremely creative and unique to your own photography based upon where you shoot, where you place your subject, what props you use, and more. When taking portraiture photography keep in mind the following tips to enhance your photography.

Portrait Photography Tips

Where to shoot

I always ask clients if they have a preference of location as their comfort during a photo shoot is a top priority. If the client does not have a preference, then you will have some freedom to choose a location. Locations should hold a variety of different structures in order to ensure a diverse portfolio. For instance, going to a hiking spot is a great idea but if you are looking to take a variety of different photos, you want to make sure that there are backgrounds that consist of more than trees. Ideally a location should have benches, trees, fences, boardwalks, rocks, pathways, and more. Now not every location will have these features (and I’m sure that there are several other features that would make a shoot diverse), but having a location that has a variety of different features makes for an easier photo shoot.

When to shoot

From personal experience I have learned not to shoot in the direct sunlight. In my opinion the best days to take portrait photos are when the weather is partly sunny, therefore, you can shoot with and without the sunlight as the clouds move. Additionally, the clouds act as a nice layer in front of the sun to prevent overexposed images. A lot of photographer shoot around sunset because ‘golden hour’ produces beautiful images, but any time during the day will work as well.

What to look for

There are a variety of things that can jump out to each individual photographer during a session, but personally I look for the following things:

Beautiful views

Having a stunning background can enhance any portrait photo greatly. Some of these backgrounds include but are not limited to mountains, bodies of water, sunsets/sunrises, flowers, forests, open fields, cities, colorful walls, etc. Usually I place the subject in front of the view and take several steps back so that I can zoom in on the subject which ultimatley creates bokeh within the stunning background.

Colorful trees & flowers

Finding a bush full of color or a tree branch with blossomed flowers is one of my favorite things. Placing the subject within a colorful atmosphere has a profound effect on the artsiness of an image. I often ask my clients to crouch within a bush or stand between tree branches to play with the depth of an image and truly have the subject immersed in the colorful blossoms.

Unique structures

I often stumble upon rustic structures or stone walls that make for great photos. Keep an eye out for walls, fences, boadwalks, benches, bridges, and more.

Lighting (Where the sun is positioned)

You may find a great spot to take photos, but without the proper weather conditions or coverage, the lighting will be very difficult to work with. I always place the sun behind my subjects during bright daylight so that the background will be bright in a photo, and the subject will not face directly into the sunlight. Using this technique at sunset, however, will create a silhouette of the subject which is the opposite of what you want for portraiture photography. At sunset use the ‘golden effect’ of the sun setting and place your subject in different places and experiment with how the sunlight hits the subject.


Hopefully these lessons that I’ve learned will aid you on your journey to capturing more professional photos! Please let me know if this has helped you and if you have anything to add, coment below. Thank you for reading!

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