Everything about Portrait Photography

Learn everything there is to know about becoming a portrait photographer.

Find Inspiration

The Best Portrait Photography Portfolio Examples of 2022

Whether you already have a portrait photography website or are building one from scratch, it’s always a good idea to look at other inspiring portfolios to get ideas for your own. A few times a year, you can review your site and see if any of the content or design needs to be refreshed. We’ve done the hard part for you by collecting gorgeous portrait photography portfolio examples that you can click through for inspiration; you’re sure to find some fresh ideas for how you can design your own.

Into the Green

Karolina Talaga of Into The Green is a portrait photographer based in Berkshire, U.K. Karolina’s explorations of the local nature reserves and beautiful woods with her children provide ample location scouting for her local client sessions. She specializes in relaxed, natural sessions focusing on connection, joy, and capturing the genuine raw emotions of people’s interactions.

Portraits by Cheryl

Cheryl Dell’Osso of Portraits by Cheryl is a professional photographer located in Apex, NC who has specialized in family, sports, real estate, and headshots throughout the Triangle Area for over a decade. An award winning portrait photographer, Cheryl’s passion for providing an amazing client experience has resulted in a repeat client community that feels like an extended family.

Kazka Photography

Olga Fortunatova of Kazka Photography is a professional family photographer serving Raleigh, RTP, and the surrounding areas. Originally from Ukraine, Olga worked with many professional studios and photographers before moving to the United States in 2014 with her family and starting her own photography business. In the Ukrainian language, Kazka means “Fairytale,” which perfectly describes the feeling Olga creates for her portrait clients.

Paul Bird

Paul Bird is a self-described chocoholic photo-taker and serial puppy-hugger. Paul got his start at film premieres photographing celebrity red carpet events, although his current passion is creative portraits of children and the young at heart. Paul is based on the Isle of Wight, where he spends his days dreaming up ways to bring an element of fun or spine-tingling awesomeness to every shoot.

Valerie Lopez

Valerie Lopez resides in South Texas with her husband and two dogs. As a self-taught photographer, she has found her calling in capturing the love between families. Whether it is a family with children or a newlywed couple, she has the ability to catch and capture organic moments that otherwise can be overseen in the day-to-day.

Kati Nielsen

Kati Nielsen is a Fernley, Nevada based photographer, adventurer, wife, and momma of two. An outdoor and travel enthusiast, she specializes in creative, natural light portraits and weddings that highlight her clients’ unique personalities.

Check Out The Best Portrait Photography Portfolio Examples of 2022

Portrait Photography Ideas For Your Next Photoshoot

As a portrait photographer, it is easy to fall into the trap of repeatedly producing similar portraits. Maybe you keep using the same models, or maybe your style has become predictable. Whatever the case, photographers of all verticles should strive to keep their work fresh.

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Idea #1: Black and white portrait photography

You’ve obviously seen and heard of black and white portrait photography, but perhaps you’ve always found that you’re drawn to color in your work. If you want to completely change the mood of an image, shooting in black and white can make a significant difference.

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Idea #2: Night portrait photography

As an experiment, try shooting a portrait at night and be prepared to discover a totally new look and feel in your work. This might include incorporating off camera flash (OCF) or using interesting ambient light such as neon signs, car headlights, etc… you get the idea.

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Idea #3: Low-key portrait light

Low-key photography is a style of photography that requires you to shoot in a low key (i.e. dimming the front light). Doing so results in a dark photo where only certain, predetermined areas of the frame are lit up by either natural light or artificial light.

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Idea # 4: Natural light photography

Natural light may not sound exciting, but try to challenge yourself by looking for interesting shadows or shooting from different angles. Things in the environment like a white wall can act as a reflector to soften the light on your model. You may notice a huge difference by paying close attention to how you shape the natural light in a scene.

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Idea #5: Studio portrait photography

Don’t be afraid to embrace studio portrait photography when booking your clients. While you may not get as much variety in your backgrounds, in some cases, having a neutral backdrop can be best because it allows the focus of the image to be on the subject.

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Idea #6: Environmental portrait photography

Environmental portrait photography is done when you capture the subject in their “natural” environment. This can mean at home, at work, or doing their favorite activity. The emphasis is still on the subject rather than the activity they are completing, but by incorporating the natural environment, we get an effortless photo that makes the subject look right at home.

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Idea #7: Film Portrait Photography

Film photography creates a really unique aesthetic that is difficult to replicate digitally, and each film has its own characteristics when it comes to grain, color, and tone.

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Idea #8: 80's Portrait Photography

You can recreate 80’s portrait photography by having your model dress in nostalgic, vintage clothing, but you can also use Photoshop to give your image a vintage feel during the post-production process.

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Idea #9: Eye portrait photography

Portrait photography doesn’t necessarily require a person to be fully present in a shot. Portrait photography can focus specifically on one body part of a person. The eye is a great point of focus because there tends to be a lot of variability, and they can convey deep emotions.

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Idea #10: Portrait low-angle photography

We also always encourage portrait photographers to play with their angels when they are looking for a way to switch things up. In particular, low-angle portrait photography can add something unique to an image.

Website Templates for Portrait Photographers

Our easy-to-use templates can be personalized into thousands of different design iterations uniquely suited for your business.

District

Our new District template features bold fonts and a neutral palette designed to perfectly complement your photos. This template provides an ideal background for any photographer.

Portland

A unique carousel with character to showcase your work in minimalist frames that perfectly present your session types and specialized genres.

Discover

A striking gallery designed for universal, modern, well-arranged photography images.

Canvas

After you perfectly capture life in the camera, show its many angles in this grid view design.

Explorer

Let your images make a big statement in the space of a gorgeous single page site design.

Amore

Romantically tell the story of engagements, weddings, and maternity.

A striking template to capture powerful portrait photography.

Savannah

A soft color palette and elegant script font are the perfect way to display romantic engagement and wedding photos.

Southwest

The black canvas background sets the stage for high contrast photos while evoking a moody style.

Check Out Website Templates for Portrait Photographers

Best Portrait Photographers

A great way to spark new ideas in your portrait photography is to read up on and study famous and historically relevant portrait photographers and their work.

The portrait photographers featured in this article pioneered new methods or made the styles and forms of their time their own. While all of the photographers we feature are best-in-class, they all got to their height of success in their own unique ways.

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Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz is an American portrait photographer, best known for photographing celebrities using a unique style of lighting, rich color, and posing. Born in Connecticut in 1949, she went on to study painting at San Francisco Art Institute, where she developed her love of photography. Leibovitz worked at Rolling Stone Magazine, Vanity Fair, and Vogue. Arguably her most famous shot was an intimate portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, taken just hours before Lennon’s untimely death.

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Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange was an American portrait photographer, most famous for her photojournalism and documentary-style photography. If her name doesn’t immediately come to mind, likely her photograph of a Depression-era migrant mother with hand on chin, surrounded by children will. Lange practiced learning by observing from a young age, which would help her later as a photographer.

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Steve Mccurry

Steve Mccurry is an American photographer, best known for his photojournalism, Born in 1950, he became interested in photography while shooting for his college newspaper in Pennsylvania. Not long after, Mccurry moved to India and began freelancing, taking searing portraits of subjects and various regions in the midst of conflict. His most famous photograph, Afghan Girl, shows the intense gaze of a young girl living in a refugee camp.

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James Van Der Zee

James Van Der Zee was born in a small town in New England in 1886. Creative from a young age, he grew up learning how to play the violin and piano, and as a teenager, took photographs of his family and hometown, creating his own darkroom in his childhood home. At 20 he moved to Harlem, New York City where he went on to open a portrait studio, his primary space for shooting, documenting photos of Harlem residents.

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Julia Margaret Cameron

Julia Margaret Cameron was a British photographer, born in 1815 in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India. She grew up among the upper class members of society, with an aristocratic mother, and a father who worked for a trading company. She didn’t take up photography until her late 40’s, yet she was prolific until her death at 63. Julia Margaret Cameron’s photography style utilized close-ups of subjects and a softly focussed lens, however she received criticism at the time for her photos’ “unrefined” quality.

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Yousuf Karsh

Yousuf Karsh was a Canadian-Armenian portrait photographer. Born in 1908, he became a refugee due to the Armenian genocide, coming to Canada in 1932 and settling in Quebec with his uncle, a portrait photographer, who gave Karsh a camera. After opening a studio in Ottawa, Karsh began taking photos of many dignitaries and public figures. By his retirement, the portrait photographer had published more than 20 photos in Life magazine.

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Philippe Halsman

Born in Riga (then a part of the Russian Empire) in 1906, Philippe Halsman was a Latvian-American portrait photographer. After experiencing deeply traumatic antisemitism in his early 20’s, Halsman fled Europe soon after the start of WWII. Throughout the 1930’s however, he had been working in France and establishing himself through his work for fashion magazines.

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George Hurrell

Born in 1904, George Hurrell was a photographer known for his 1940’s Hollywood glamour portraits. Hurrell originally studied painting, and only used photography to document his work. After moving to California, he began to pursue photography. Hurrell’s style of shooting often included a full body portrait, and his Hollywood glamour portraits led him to work for MGM Studios.

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Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus was an American photographer, who grew up and spent most of her life in New York City. Her portrait subjects were varied, however she often shot those with unique features or identities–twins, socialites, drag artists, carnival performers, the vast majority found on the streets of New York City and surrounding area. Arbus started with 35mm cameras, then moved to the more crisp, detailed ability of medium-format film cameras. Arbus’ famous photos were often shot in homes, parks, streets, and beaches, her black and white portrait-shooting style can be described by centered, front shooting, often utilizing a flash during the daytime to bring subjects distinctly out of their surroundings.

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Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon was an American photographer best known for his fashion photography. His interest in photography emerged in childhood, often taking photos of his sister. He went on to study photography at The New School, quickly finding work in art direction for Harper’s Bazaar, and setting up his own studio. Avedon infused vibrancy and movement into his photographs, shooting in studio and outdoors.

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Irving Penn

Born in 1917, Irving Penn was an American fashion and portrait photographer. He studied art in Philadelphia, and while there, also worked at Harper’s Bazaar in the art department. Several years later his photos started showing up in Vogue, where he continued to work throughout his career. Penn preferred the control of a studio-environment, even creating make-shift ones while on assignment abroad.

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Arnold Newman

Arnold Newman was an American photographer. He grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey, but twice moved down to Florida, once where he studied painting and drawing at the University of Miami, later to open a business of his own in Miami Beach. He moved to New York in 1946, where he opened a studio and worked as a freelance photographer for many popular magazines at the time.

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Herb Ritts

Born in Los Angeles in 1952, and returning after attending Bard College in New York, Herb Ritts got his start in photography while photographing friend and aspiring actor, Richard Gere. The American fashion photographer became famous for his black and white portraits of models and celebrities. Ritts’ career began in the late 70s and took off through his work at magazines and on advertising campaigns. His photography was concerned with shapes and simplicity, and his fine art photography continues to be exhibited.

Make A Living

How To Make Money With Your Photography

Turn your passion for photography into cash.

Do you want to make money with your photography? We’ve rounded up the best ways to make money with photos, from workshops and blogging to portraits and tours.

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How To Price Your Portrait Photography Services

How Do You Price Your Portrait Photography?

The average annual salary for a portrait photographer in the US is about $44,000, but the average in your particular city may be quite different. Having an idea of what you would like your take home pay at the end of the year can help you guide your pricing strategy.

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Learn It All

Top Portrait Photography Hashtags For 2022

As a portrait photographer, your camera is the tool to capture something about a person’s or a group of people’s identity, story, or essence. Portraits can be very powerful images and making sure your images can be seen and consumed by your viewers is important. Hashtags are an easy way to get reach for your portrait photography. Make sure your audience finds you with these top portrait photography hashtags by niche.

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Top Fashion Portrait Photography Hashtags

If you shoot fashion portraits, you’ll want a hashtag strategy that gets in front of photography lovers as well as fashion lovers who will be more likely to save the image.

#fashionportrait #fashionphotography #fashionshoot #fashioneditorial #portraitfashion #fashiongram

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Top Black And White Portrait Photography Hashtags

Black and portraiture will always be in style. Try these hashtags the next time you post a black and white portrait.

#bnw #bnwportrait #blackandwhite #bnwmood #blackandwhiteportrait #monochromeportrait

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Top Self Portrait Photography Hashtags

If you play both model and photographer and turn the camera on yourself to create your images, use these hashtags to get those photos noticed.

#selfportrait #selfportraitphotographer #selfshot #instame #portraitpage #artofselfportraiture

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Top Travel Portrait Photography Hashtags

Travel portraits can help transport viewers to a place, helping to capture the essence of a location through the people who call it home. Tag your travel portraits with these popular hashtags.

#postcardsfromtheworld #peopleoftheworld #travelportraits #natgeohumanity #worldface #atlasofhumanity

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Top Film Portrait Photography Hashtags

If you prefer shooting portraits the old fashion way, on film, try these hashtags.

#thefilmcommunity #filmphotographic #filmportrait #filmisnotdead #analogportrait #grainisgood

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Top Art Portrait Photography Hashtags

If you create portraits that would be right at home in an art book, on a gallery wall, or displayed in a home, you’ll want to get those art photography portraits in front of art lovers online. Use these hashtags to make your portraits searchable.

#artphotography #fineartportrait #artofinstagram #contemporaryphotography #portraitoftheday #streetvision

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Top Celebrity Portrait Photography Hashtags

If you shoot celebrity portraits, the best audience for those images will be fans of that particular celebrity. Try these celebrity portrait hashtags:

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Top Wedding Portrait Photography Hashtags

Wedding photographers straddle the world of event photography and portrait photography.

#weddingportrait #weddingphotography #weddinginspo #bridalportrait #weddingmoments #weddingwire

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Top Family Portrait Photography Hashtags

As a family portrait photographer, your hashtags should aim to get your family portraits in front of potential clients in your geographic area. You can add a location tag to all of your images, as well as some geographically-relevant hashtags.

#familyphotography #familyphotoshoot #familygoals #maternityphotography #familysessions #(yourlocation)familyphotographer

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Top Conceptual Portrait Photography Hashtags

Artistic, conceptual portraits can perform very well on Instagram if they reach the right audience.

#conceptualphotography #conceptualart #capturedconcepts #artisoninstagram #abstractphotography #experimentalphotography

Portrait Photography Tips

What is the primary light source used in portrait photography? 

Many portrait photographers use natural light and shoot outdoors. Two favorite outdoor situations are golden hour, which is the hour after sunrise or the hour before sunset, or overcast skies for the soft, even lighting they provide. Those who favor indoor studio portrait photography typically use either a strobe light or continuous light as the primary light source. Strobe lights flash when you press the shutter and tend to be stronger, while continuous lights may be less bright but stay lit continuously so you can see how the light is falling on your subject.

What is an advantage of portrait orientation for portrait photography? 

When photographing only one or two subjects, using portrait orientation allows you to easily fit the subject’s entire body without additional distractions. You can also shoot closer and focus on details or the connection between a couple, filling the frame while avoiding awkward body cropping. Landscape orientation can be used to advantage when photographing larger family groups, using negative space to draw eyes to your subject, or for jaw-dropping shoot locations that enhance the portrait and tell the story. Shooting with a mix of both orientations will give you the best variety when delivering final client galleries.

What is the best shutter speed for portrait photography? 

There is no perfect shutter speed because the right choice will depend on your ISO and aperture setting, and lighting conditions. Keep in mind the faster your shutter speed the more you freeze motion, a.k.a. clearer images. In lower light situations, a fast shutter speed might mean pushing your ISO higher, which can result in more noise. There’s always a trade-off when setting your exposure; the more you practice, the better you’ll understand how each element works together to create your desired image.

Where to place lights for portrait photography?

If you’re just starting out with portrait photography, try mastering the basics before experimenting with more complicated lighting setups. Rembrandt light, loop light, and broad light are all easy to set up and can make for very professional-looking portraits.

How to set up lights for portrait? 

When setting up your portrait lights, start by setting them up at about eye level to see how the shadows fall on your subject’s face. Then, you can experiment with placing them at a higher angle. Everyone’s face is unique, so it’s always worth playing around with your positioning a little bit to see what works best for your subject.

What settings for portrait photography? 

For the clearest image possible, set your ISO as low as you can in your camera. For many cameras, that will mean ISO 100. Then, if you want a blurry background, try a wide aperture around f/1.4 or whatever is the widest option with your lens. You can use a smaller aperture if you want the whole frame in focus. Finally, choose the shutter speed that gives you a well-exposed photo for your lighting conditions and locations, ISO, and aperture.

How to eliminate shadows in portrait photography? 

Light modifiers can help you control the lighting in your image so that more of it falls on the shadows on your subject’s face. Reflectors are great to have on hand. These are large pieces of fabric that reflect a lot of light, and they can be white, silver, or gold. The metallic ones will change the color of the light, giving you a cooler or warmer reflection.

What is the best focal length for portrait photography?

Any lenses with a focal length ranging from 35 mm to 85 mm are suitable for portrait photography, but it’s possible to shoot portraits with both wider lenses and more telephoto lenses. 85 mm is considered a perfect focal length for portraits because it doesn’t distort features at all and looks very similar to what we see with our naked eyes, but unlike 35 mm and 50 mm lenses, they’re less practical to have because the longer focal length limits the number of scenarios you can use them for.

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The State of the Photography Industry Report 2022

The State of the Photography Industry 2022 report provides insight into industry trends, the business of photography, how photographers find clients and more topics.

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The Who and the Where

Full and part-time self-employed photographers also accounted for 71% of respondents, with photography hobbyists, students and employees making up the balance. The data reflects the views of a seasoned group, as over half of survey participants reported having more than 10 years experience.

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Optimism...With a Caution Light

On the heels of a “slower-than-expected” 2021, the survey participants are cautiously optimistic about the current year business climate. Even though a robust 89% reflect an overall optimistic attitude about business this year, a closer look reveals a spectrum of sentiments.

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About the Business of the Business

Over 83% of photographers disclosed that they work with 3 or fewer types of clients, with 37% saying that they work with just one type. The vast majority of clients are categorized as individuals or small/medium businesses, while enterprise, institutions, publications and agencies comprise the rest.

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Sources for New Client Acquisition

When it comes to finding clients, traditional word-of-mouth marketing is still the top method, while portfolio websites are the most important online tool for client acquisition. Instagram is the preferred social media channel for showing off work to reach a larger audience.

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A Look Inside the Gear Bag

discover which cameras and lenses are preferred by photography speciality and see what other photographers in your specialty are shooting with.

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Output: Still Photography and Video

Even though most digital cameras can shoot both still images and video, the survey reflected that still photography is by far the primary medium for most of the survey participants with 64% shooting stills and 35% shooting a mix of still and video. Merely 11% divulged outsourcing video production to someone else. Online file transfer accounts for half of the logistics for video delivery.

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How Photographers Adapted

54.7% Adapting how I conduct shoots. 20.7% Generating revenue online. 46.8% Taking on new types of clients/shoots

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How Photographers are Generating Revenue Online

Selling prints and downloads to my clients and Selling prints in an online store or marketplace dominated how photographers are generating revenue online.

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The Impact of COVID on Photography

As reflected in the COVID Impact on 2021 Activity chart above, even though a majority of photographers said business was slower than expected, 23% of full-time and 14% of part-time photographers were actually busier than expected. What activities generated revenue for photographers during the year?

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The Revenue Report

Similar to the experiences of most businesses over the past two years, the photography industry was not immune to adverse repercussions and operational challenges. However, when considering “fight or flight” responses, photographers as whole showed resilience by adapting and sticking with the craft and commerce they love.