The same settings, composition, and posing can get tiresome for both photographers and clients. However, coming up with new ideas for shoots can be challenging and time-consuming. To save time and make your life easier, we’ve compiled a list of 28 creative ideas for portrait photography. They will help you create portraits that wow your clients and audience. Keep on reading to find out more!
Studio Portrait Ideas
1. Take Close-Up Shots
Make an interesting close-up shot by focusing on one feature of a model’s face, such as freckles. You can also make a face stand out with makeup, accessories, lighting patterns, and various facial expressions. Alternatively, try some creative cropping techniques and leave parts you like the best in frame: eyes, lips, smile, etc.
2. Play With Eye Contact
The direction of your subject’s eyes can significantly affect the image and create a sense of connection. When a person looks directly into the camera lens, it creates a connection between the subject and viewer of the photo. Eye contact between two subjects helps demonstrate their relationship. You can also ask your model to look off camera to tell a story and make the photograph more interesting and intriguing.
3. Shoot Portraits With Color Gels
Looking for more indoor portrait photography ideas? Color gels can help create interesting portraits with a certain mood or atmosphere. Color gel, also known as a color filter, is a transparent colored material utilized in photography and cinematography. It is usually placed over a light source to modify it and produce colorful effects. However, when using gels, you should know which colors complement each other. Examine the color wheel to find the most visually pleasing combinations.
Outdoor Portrait Photography Ideas
4. Document the Season
Lack street portrait photography ideas? Document the time of year. Every season offers something worth capturing; therefore, use the current season to your advantage in your portrait photography. Take pictures of things associated with this time of the year, or photograph something special or something you like about it.
5. Experiment With Reflection
Using a small or shattered mirror to emphasize one feature of your model’s face or body can help you photograph abstract portraits. Many mirrors in a frame can help create eye-catching and illusory photographs. Another creative portrait idea is to take a mirror outdoors and reflect a model, location, or sky.
6. Involve Pets
Involving animals in the shooting process can boost the model’s mood and help them feel more relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera. To get the best pet pose, use treats and toys. In your portraits, show the relationship between the pet and owner through cuddling, kissing, or playing with the animal.
7. Show Lifestyle
The goal of lifestyle photography is to tell a story through candid, unstaged scenes. Usually, photographers capture simple things and real-life situations to create moody and authentic visuals. When making lifestyle portraits, direct the action, not the poses. Ask your models to run, dance, jump, or spin, and be ready to capture the best shot.
— Use our outdoor photography guide to find out the best time to take pictures outside.
Fine Art Portrait Photography Ideas
8. Make Use of Contrast
When you accentuate visible details in a photo with contrast, it creates depth and results in superior compositions. You can emphasize the characteristic of one color by utilizing a high-contrast tone in the same frame. Alternatively, use different shades of the same color to create an artistic photograph.
9. Add Anonymity
Covering a model’s face or body with a cloth or other material will make the shot more interesting and intriguing. People will be curious about who is in the photo and their story. Such photographs can be utilized for wall decor, as well as for magazine covers.
10. Utilize Creative Props
Experiment with objects in the frame to make your photographs stand out. Wigs, masks, hair accessories, costumes, glitter, confetti, magazines, fruit baskets, flower petals, candles, vinyl, mirrors, or smoke can all be used for creative portrait photography.
— Read about fine art photography tips on the Depositphotos blog.
Self-Portrait Photography Ideas
11. Play With Shadows
Natural light provides many opportunities to create stunning images, especially when using shadows. Look for anything with a pattern in your house or outdoors. You can utilize water, palm leaves, straw hats, or lace curtains in your portraits. Before shooting, consider the time of day and the sun’s position.
12. Make Silhouettes With Double Exposure
Even though the double exposure effect looks complicated, it can be easily created with a simple idea like silhouette photography. Take double exposure images with an analog camera or use editing software such as Adobe Photoshop. Artistic self-portrait photography can help you express your creative side.
13. Embrace the Blur to Add Dynamics
Motion blur is a photographic technique that uses slow shutter speed to create the illusion of movement in a static image. By utilizing this effect, you can add dynamics to a photograph and create an interesting self-portrait. Move around or toss your hair while shooting. Use long exposure to create the visual effect of multiple people floating in the same image.
— Wondering about how to take blurry pictures? Learn how to create five different types of blurred motion photos.
Family Portrait Photography Ideas
14. Get Inspired by One Color
Another photoshoot idea for portrait photography is to choose a dominating hue or color scheme. You can dress family members in various colors of the same color palette and pick matching settings. Unleash your creativity on set and enhance your color photography in post-production.
15. Go Black and White
Black and white photography is perfect for portraits. It can help highlight emotions and emphasize key elements of the photo, such as contrast, shape, texture, and light. Creating black and white images can also help elevate small details that are not visible in the colored shots.
— Learn how to convert images to black and white in a short Photoshop tutorial.
16. Match Outfits
Another great idea for a family photoshoot is matching outfits. When selecting clothing, consider the season and place. Check that your attire matches the color of the setting. Opt for classic clothes that will not go out of style fast to create a timeless picture.
— Check out a complete guide to family photography (tips, ideas, and trends included!).
Wedding Portrait Photography Ideas
17. Shoot From the Back
Faceless portraits can be interesting too! However, since you can’t use facial expressions, you need to rely on other things to tell a story and make your photos stand out. It can be a location, a pose, or other subjects and props.
18. Play With a Veil
Using a veil for wedding portraits is a proven way to create romantic, elegant, or even dramatic shots. You can photograph the wedding accessory over a bride’s face, a couple kissing under the veil, or a veil toss. Alternatively, take photos in a bride’s getting-ready room with an accessory next to her.
19. Capture Couple Activity
You can show love through a photo with a couple doing something together. Capturing the first dance, a bike ride, or them cutting a wedding cake together. This can result in romantic and authentic photographs.
Children’s Portrait Photography Ideas
20. Take Photos Through Objects
Photographing through various objects will result in experimental and creative portraits. You can shoot through lights, cellophane, glass, hands, branches, or flowers. When taking photos through glass, look for single-glass windows, shoot on cloudy days or when the window is in the shade, and use polarizing filters to reduce reflections.
21. Capture Sincere Emotions
Before starting a photoshoot with children, connect with them to help them feel comfortable. To capture genuine emotions on a child’s face, photograph them in a familiar environment, give them something to do, and don’t interfere with the process. Keep taking photos when the child is not expecting it or is unaware of being shot.
22. Photograph During Lunchtime
Every parent knows that feeding a baby is not an easy task to do. During lunchtime, children often refuse to eat, play with their food, or dream about something. All of these scenes can be turned into interesting shots for portrait photography. After all, photography does not always have to be complicated.
Female Portrait Photography Ideas
23. Use Prism Photography For Creative Effect
Prism photography can help enliven portraits and add creative effects to your images. A photographer can use a prism to bend, refract, or scatter light on a subject. This way, you can add dreamy reflections, flare, rainbows, and blur effects to your pictures. To achieve a creative prism effect in your portrait, place the prism on the lens and move it around till you see a reflection or rainbow.
24. Show Diversity
The importance of diversity in photography cannot be overstated. Including women of different colors, ages, or sexual orientations in your portraits can help create authentic visuals, raise awareness about social issues, and convey important messages.
25. Experiment With Makeup
Creative makeup with bold color combinations or glitter can help create visually pleasing and artistic portraits. To get the best shots, cooperate with professional makeup artists, ensure the backdrop and outfit complements the makeup, use props that match the makeup, and accentuate freckles. Take half-side close-up portraits, leaving the face vertical or horizontal, depending on which part of the face you want to emphasize in the photo.
Male Portrait Photography Ideas
26. Make the Most Out of Posing
Posing can help emphasize the subject’s best features, capture authentic personality, and create one-of-a-kind portraits. Establish clear communication with the model to express your goals for the photoshoot. Find interesting poses in advance and ask your subject to practice them in front of the mirror. Also, ask the model to dance or move freely and try to capture striking poses.
— Interested in tips on posing? Read this article on how to pose for portrait photos.
27. Shoot From Different Angles
To add a creative touch to your portraits, alter your perspective. Taking photos on the subject’s level will give beautiful results, but to add some variety, shoot from other angles. Low-angle photography makes your subjects appear slimmer and taller. Top views allow you to place props around models or play with their hair creatively.
28. Express Creativity
To make attention-grabbing portraits, use your imagination to the maximum. Look for inspiration in fashion magazines, through visual artist Instagrams, or blogs for creatives. Embody the craziest ideas you’ve been thinking about for a long time, or ask for suggestions from your audience, model, or stylist.
— For additional portrait ideas, check alternative ways to illustrate creativity.
If you’re having trouble coming up with new ideas and concepts for your personal or commercial work, bookmark this article and return to it whenever you need help. Hopefully, these portrait photography ideas will inspire you for new creative photoshoots.
FAQ About Portrait Photography
What is portrait photography?
Portrait photography, often known as portraiture, is a type of photography that aims to capture the personality of a person or group of people. It is usually done with the help of good lighting, backdrops, and posing.
What are the three major types of portrait photography?
Three major types of portrait photography are standard posed portrait, anonymous portrait, and creative or conceptual portrait. When a standard posed portrait is taken, the subject is aware that he or she is being shot and maintains eye contact with the photographer. In the anonymous portrait, the subject is usually unaware of being photographed. The main purpose of a creative or conceptual portrait is to capture an idea.
How do you shoot portrait photography?
There are a few rules to follow to make perfect portraits. First, use soft, diffused natural light. You can create it with a softbox, or take pictures on an overcast day or during golden hours. Second, pick a neutral or uncluttered background that won’t distract the viewer from your subject. Third, experiment with perspective. Shoot from above, from the side, or at your subject’s eye level. Last but not least, pose your portrait subject.
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