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The 5 top tips for taking portraits - plus the best camera for the job

The 5 top tips for taking portraits - plus the best camera for the job

2020-01-25 | Photography

A good photographer needs to enhance his expertise in all kinds of photography, especially when it comes to portraits.

The challenge with portraits is that they are always very personal and finding the right method to take portrait photography can be tricky. With a lot of knowledge, the right tools and a good attention to detail you can easily become a great portrait photographer. But you have to realize that following portrait tips and taking the right amount of time to master all of this matters a lot.


Light is very important when you take portraits. It's one of the crucial portrait tips because it allows you to set the stage for that portrait very well. Natural lighting works great for portraits because it makes them feel more appealing. On the other hand, if natural light is problematic, then using studio lighting is a lot better. The idea is that most great portrait photographers are focused on using the best lighting system they have to make it stand out.

photography lighting

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There are some that even use umbrellas because they have silver linings that reflect the contrasting light on the person. It just gives that extra touch and visual appeal you need without forcing this too much. You rarely have such features unless you go with a silver umbrella. In case you need more contrast you can move the umbrella further away. Adaptability is key when it comes to lighting. You can have very powerful lights or just a bit of artificial light combined with natural light.

The problem is that it can take a bit until you get that perfect shot right. This type of situation requires a lot of adaptability and attention. But it totally works and it gives exactly what you need in a comprehensive manner.

You also need to think about clothing conflicts. Sometimes the clothes of your model are conflicting with the background. That means you can change to a different background style or use more powerful lighting to eliminate that problem.


Picking the right angle is just as important here. A good camera for portraits should always be used in different angles. Lighting will showcase your model differently based on what direction you are shooting them from. And you really have to use that to your own advantage, otherwise you will have problems.

photography angles

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The lens you use is important too. If you shoot from a low angle, the subject will fell taller than they actually are. A wide angle lens is great if you want a portrait that goes in-depth and provides a stellar visual impact. The idea here is to play around with angles, as they will help take your model's visual appeal to the next level. Adaptability and creativity are key, and you really need to take advantage of all those things in order to make this entire process more distinctive and powerful.

Tilting the camera in a 45-degree angle is also very exciting because you can capture some details that would normally be hard to see. Here you have two options, you either focus on the model and blur the background or you make the background a pivotal part of the picture after all. Once you tackle this correctly, the payoff will be second to none.

Which Lens?

The trick with lenses is that not all of them are very good for portraits. You need to take your time and figure out what lens works in your particular situation. Standard lenses are close to the human eye when it comes to the view angle. That makes them great for portraits, street photography, lenses and so on. You should consider giving these a shot if possible and focus on delivering the ultimate experience in a very distinctive and reliable manner.

photography lenses

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Fish eye lenses are good for wide panoramas and skyscapes. Wide angle lenses are suitable for architectural purposes and interiors in general. Telephoto lenses are good for action photography. Normally standard lenses are the best ones but the reality is that you can also adapt the others to make them more interesting and easier to use for any purpose you want. However, if you just want to point and shoot, you should go with the standard lenses. The others require a bit more tinkering and they are more suitable for professionals that have a lot of experience in manipulating lenses to their own needs.

It's all about the eyes

When you look at most portrait photography, what really stands out is the eyes of that person. And that's because this type of photography is all about the eyes. It focuses on showing off the clarity of your eyes while also showcasing all the other details. It's the eyes that give a lot more depth and color to this image. With the right techniques you will be able to achieve that. Make sure that you focus on the eyes and also try to ask the model for different positioning.

photographing eyes

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This helps a lot because you can capture the person in question looking in different ways. That connects to the angles we talked about a bit earlier. Every angle can give you more details and ways to work with this picture.

Post Processing
photography post processing

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No matter how hard you try, no portrait photography will be perfect right away. You do need some post processing to make sure that you remove all the blemishes, unnatural light and other problems. It's definitely going to help a lot because it delivers all the amazing results and quality you always wanted in a professional manner. You do need to allocate enough time to post-processing, and it will totally be worth it!

The best camera for portrait photography

Now that you know the techniques, it's important to purchase the best camera for portrait photography. We created a list with some of the best models on the market that successfully combine the best results and ultimate value without any hassle. All you have to do is to check out these great features and then see what works for you in a meaningful manner.

Nikon D850

Nikon D850 offers quite a lot of amazing features. It shoots in full 4K, it can do continuous shooting at 7 FPS and it also comes with the FX format and 45.7 megapixels. The lens is suitable for portrait photography, and you will like the fact that it delivers a dynamic range, autofocus, stellar battery life and speedlight control. It's a great portrait photography camera at a decent price.

View More Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

This is a full-frame camera suitable for professionals. You will like it a lot because it has a stellar CMOS full frame sensor, great sensibility, it can do lots of pictures at 7 frames per second, it even has a GPS mode, great connectivity, not to mention the display is touchscreen and you have plenty of customization options. The DIGIC 6+ processor really helps deliver a stellar quality. This is a bit expensive especially for newcomers, but certainly worth it.

View More Sony a7R III Mirrorless

Sony a7R III Mirrorless is one of the top tier cameras on the market and it gives you a stellar dynamic range, a compact body and one of the best lenses for the money. There's plenty of customization to be had here, not to mention they have a hybrid system and at the same time you also receive 42.4 MP, not to mention a wonderful contrast detection and up to 10 FPS per second which is really good especially if you want to take lots of portraits at once.

View More Canon EOS 5DS R

With the Canon EOS 5DS R you receive stellar sharpness and fine detail. The 50 MP are astounding for this, not to mention you get the low pass filter effect cancellation so you can focus on your subject a bit more than ever. You also have specialty controls, better accuracy, mirror vibration control, high resolution for all images, low reflection viewing, simple cropped shooting from within the camera and many others. It's a top tier camera, but it definitely delivers when it comes to value and picture quality.

View More Nikon D810

Nikon D810 is a super powerful DSLR camera that has 36.3 MP and a CMOS body. It's very compact, but at the same time it also delivers a flat picture control, a great clarity picture control. It even has dust and water protection too, which is always a plus for such a product. The low pass filter and the EXPEED 4 visual processor really help when it comes to delivering high standard pictures without worries.

View More Conclusion

All great portrait photographers will try to find the best camera for their budget, as that's what makes the difference most of the time. With the best camera for portrait photography you can easily obtain the results you want and the payoff can be huge. Do remember that a good portrait photography camera requires a hefty budget, but it's delivering a stellar return on investment. And the best part is that with its help and these tips for taking portraits, you can turn this into a business in no time!