Picture Perfect Portrait: A Step-by-Step Guide

From dreamy images with blurred backgrounds to austere headshots, portrait photography is a style of photography that portrays human subjects. 

Portrait photography heavily relies on the photographer’s handling of the camera, their sense of the subject, and their creative ability to bring those elements together in unique ways. It is the art of capturing the inherent character of the subject within a photograph, seizing attention and evoking emotion from the viewers. 

In today’s tutorial, we want to show you how to enhance your shots and turn your portraits into great works of art! For more portrait tips and tricks, head to our blog, here.

1. Focus on the subject

Your subject is the most essential aspect of your portrait, hence it’s crucial that your subject is comfortable with and around you as a photographer. 

Prior to the photoshoot, you should establish rapport, discuss your ideas for the shoot with your subject, and factor in their preferences and abilities in your plan. During the shoot, it’s important that you keep communicating with your subject to ensure they’re comfortable in front of a camera throughout the portrait session. 

2. Find the right location

The location of your shoot plays a quintessential role in the outcome of your portrait. Shooting outdoors in natural light does deliver beautiful results, but it does pose certain challenges such as weather, venue conditions, time of the day, etc. 

You should avoid shooting in direct sunlight as it produces unwanted dark, harsh shadows. Hence, you should opt to shoot during the mornings or late afternoons when the sunlight is softer. Or, you can diffuse your light source using a softbox or a simple white sheet to help soften the light and create a more natural look on your subject.

3. Get the pose right

Getting your subject to pose in a way that complements them while paying attention to the camera angle, background, and lighting is always a good challenge. You should try out various combinations of poses and angles to find the best options for your subject and photoshoot.

Or, you can snap candid photos of your subject in their most natural state doing their usual activities as opposed to having them pose in a certain way that’s forced and unnatural. 

4. Capture emotions and expressions

Capturing an expression that evokes emotion is the art of portrait photography. Getting your subject to emote is easier said than done as it takes time for your subject to feel comfortable and get into that zone. A twinkle in the eye, a soft smile, a confident expression – these are the recipes for creating memorable portrait shots. 

5. Edit your raw photo

Once you’ve gotten your shots, choose your favorite and open it in Pixlr.

Now, we’re going to enhance the portrait by adding a preset and making some adjustments.

We’ve decided to go with the Style preset. Feel free to adjust the amount of filter you’d like to apply.

After applying the preset, we want to adjust the highlights and shadows to create more depth in the portrait.

To further enhance the shadows, you can opt to use Curves, click on the white circle and start dragging the anchor point to the right until the contrast deepens.

And voila – now you have a vaguely mysterious yet silently intriguing portrait.

6. Add some flair to your portrait

If you’re wanting to add some creative flair to your already gorgeous portrait, you can always use our favorite AI Cutout tool to remove the background.

Now that you’ve removed the background, you can freely adjust the size and position of your subject. Move your subject to the center of the artboard.

Now, add an image of a sky or anything plain and move the layer to the bottom so that it becomes the new background.

You can add more elements and layers to your portrait using the same cutout tool.

7. Have fun!

When doing portrait photography, the most important thing is enjoying the creative process. Here, we have a beautiful shot of a dancer in a flowy elegant dress. To further elevate this portrait, we’re going to have fun and play around with our Disperse tool.

All you have to do is draw over any area in your image and watch it blow up – literally. Of course, you’d be able to customize the dispersion particles by choosing the shape you want and adjusting their scale, amount, direction, etc.

Here is the final result – a captivating and creative portrait edited by Pixlr

Perfect Your Portrait with Pixlr!

Portrait photography is a skill that definitely takes time and patience to master, but you can always start now and enjoy the process as you learn new tips and tricks to enhance your craft. 

As always, share your work with us on social media by tagging @Pixlr on Facebook and Instagram – we’d love to see your Pixlr creations!