Ep 287: 5 Portrait photography techniques every photographer should know

If you want to master the art of portrait photographer, here are 5 techniques you should know. You might be technically sound but if you don’t connect with your subject, you’ll never make it as a successful portrait photographer. Gina and Valerie discuss what you need to know to ace it in this field.

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Show Notes

This week’s constructive critiques

Dylan Kraayenbrink

“Hi all, I could use some thoughts on a particular aspect of this photo.

I used a gradient filter from the bottom to partway up the model’s legs to draw attention more to her face.

While I like the spotlight effect, it does make her feet much darker than the rest of her.


Brea Ann

“First time using off-camera flash. CC welcome. I usually shoot in natural light only but I am trying to come out of my comfort zone.”

You’ll find out feedback in this episode.

5 portrait photography techniques every photographer should know

“Do more than is required. What is the distance between someone who achieves their goals consistently and those who spend their lives and careers merely following? The extra mile.” Gary Ryan Blair


  • Once you understand the basics of exposure and light, it’s easy for anyone with a smartphone to take an ok portrait. Just point and shoot.
  • Small subtle changes I’m going to share with you today will take your portrait from MEH to amazing and stand out from the pack.

Head tilt

  • The natural reaction is to tilt away from the camera
  • Bring the head forward a down
  • Many people cock their heads away from the camera,
  • Tilt towards, forward and down
  • This makes someone who isn’t confident look confident
  • Use your hands to direct your model
  • In the GOLD tutorials and HEADSHOT course I teach you how to do this

Ensure there is someone home in the eyes

  • Visualisation
  • Distraction

Pose and direct everyone, especially “pros”

  • Pro models get a “try hard” pose and look, learn to recognise this and gently steer them away from try-hard

There is no one size fits all in portrait photography

  • Light the person individually.
  • Think about background choice
  • Some skin tones look amazing against a dark background
  • Others look better against a light bright background
  • Experiment with split/Rembrandt/beauty lighting
  • Experiment with light modifiers

Look for moments between frames and allow models to find their own natural pose

  • Give your model a starting or reference pose
  • Eg sit in a chair and lean forward
  • Show don’t tell
  • Then give them an opportunity to find their own version of that pose
  • As you’re shooting look for the moments between frames
  • Tell them you need to tweak lights or adjust a setting but keep shooting

How to direct and pose like a pro

About Gina

About Gina

Gina Milicia is one of the most widely known and respected photographers in Australia. She is the master of capturing that ‘magical moment’... READ MORE

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