Portrait Photoshoot Tips for Beginners

Let’s unpack it together in this photography tutorial.

How to run your first portrait photoshoot

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4 Tips to Run A Great Portrait Photoshoot

How to Make the Most of a Portrait Photo Session

If you have never done a portrait photoshoot before, but maybe you want to try portrait photography or you have one booked soon, these portrait photoshoot tips are for you. 

With portrait photography you have to manage the location, lighting, camera gear. Not to mention your model or potentially more than one person. It can get overwhelming quickly!

In this video tutorial Mitch Lally shows some behind the scenes of a portrait photoshoot and shares the tips he’s learned along the way to making the best out of your portrait shoots. 

Top Tips to Nail Your First Portrait Photoshoot

Portrait Photoshoot Tips #1: Mirroring

You probably have some poses or angles in mind for your portrait photoshoot.

You want to be able to communicate to your model or subjects how to pose, where to stand or what angle to face. 

It can usually be difficult to just explain this with words. And most of the time beginner portrait photographers will get frustrated trying to do this.

But if you can learn to mirror to your subject exactly what you want to see them doing, you will have a much easier time getting the pose you want.

Try showing them exactly how to stand or sit, where to put their arms, or even where you want them to stand in the shot.

You will get the shots you want more often and remove confusion and frustration if you can learn to mirror.

Mirror the pose for your portrait subject

Portrait Photoshoot Tips #2: Positive Reinforcement

What is positive reinforcement? It’s the principle that when someone is encouraged, they will perform better than if they are disciplined.

Try to give positive feedback to your model or subjects while taking the photos. Especially if these people are not used to being in front of the camera.

Maybe they are shy or just haven’t had much experience with it yet.

The more positive you can be towards them with telling them if they have done a good pose, the better it will go.

Or tell them they are looking good and the photos look great, the better they will perform in front of the camera.

Don’t focus too much on composition and camera settings that you forget to talk to your models.

Positive encouragement and reinforcing the good things they are doing will give them confidence! And allow them to be more relaxed and comfortable. 

Give your subject positive reinforcement to get better photos


Portrait Photoshoot Tips #3: Don’t Underestimate Doing a Location Scout

Location scouting is important for portrait photography especially when you want to have different sceneries. It’s simple enough to start looking for photo locations online.

But nothing beats actually going to the location physically yourself. And seeing the spots you want to use for your shoot ahead of time.

Don’t make the mistake of scouting online and then showing up with gear and model only to have the place be closed or not actually accessible. 

Try to go to the location the day before your planned shoot around the same time of day you will be shooting.

That way you can scout out how to get there, where to park, how to get to the sceneries you want whether it’s a beach or hillside or bridge, and the natural light conditions.

You’ll be able to get through your shoot more confidently and efficiently if you have scouted potential compositions and locations before arriving.

Scout you location in person if possible to avoid a mixup

Portrait Photoshoot Tips #4: Your Phone is Your Best Friend for Inspiration

Use your phone for keeping your inspiration photos easily accessible. You can save photo ideas on your phone whether on Pinterest, other social media platforms, in your photos,  or saved in a note file. 

While you don’t want to rely only on your phone, it’s a great backup in case you get stuck during the shoot.

Keep ideas for poses, compositions, and locations handy so that you always have that inspiration close by.

Keep inspiration on your phone for the photos

Portrait Photography Shoots are Made Easier by following these simple tips!

Knowing how to communicate poses and feedback to models, scouting locations and having photo inspo right on your phone are just some easy tips you can follow for your next portrait session!

Want to improve your photography overall? Check out this comprehensive photography guide!

Which of these portrait photography tips will you use for your first or next portrait shoot?

Comment below!

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