It’s always refreshing to take photos of people. At last your subject interacts with you, rather than taking pictures of fallen leaves and coffee cups. Do you also wonder why most of the time candid shots really hit the spot. Here are simple steps to get you started with your portrait portfolio.

1. Know your subject

Joseph from

Start with asking what he or she wants to portray. I usually ask this before the session starts: Do you want your shots to look like Vogue or Rolling Stones? You’ll know it from there.


In this case, the model on the right smiles A LOT! Let these kind of models bring out the best of their poses through acting silly, doing kawaii poses, showing the world they are Miss smarty pants, or just look plain. Don’t burst their bubbles.

2. Build trust

Whoever your model is, you should get to know her like you guys are BFFs. Modeling ain’t easy you know! So at least she has to feel as if it is her own ANTM shoot. Never show off your Nigel Barker fangs. Not just yet.

3. Start with a concept

There’s no place for genericness in the world of art. Even the slightest details contribute to the wholeness of a concept.  Put it this way, artists use Photoshop, not the other way around. So don’t get overwhelmed with the props, backdrops and the way the models look. Start building by looking at the big idea first.

4. Look for an appropriate background that defines your subject







(Left) Smiley face + Concrete background = Uhh??

(Right) Emoting + cool hat plain black top + bricks = COOL!




Do you notice the disconnection between the warmth of her smile and the cold walls behind her?Mister/Miss Quirky Bubbly’s personality is too much for the camera to handle already. Choose either plain or patterned background to go with the model’s personality. Let them speak for themselves. You can also play with colors, textures, shapes, ideas, personalities, destinations, or even clothings. These add contrast to create a harmonious output.

5. You need to know how to pose

photographer poses for models
Image credits:

Tada! Don’t be that guy who just talks. Remember this is a visual journey between you and your subject. You should show how the angle and posing works. Showing what you want helps your model visualize your ideas. Then get your model do the pose.

6. Commend and encourage

Shy Girl
The Shy Sister from

It still does amazing wonders. Remember how you built trust together? You as a photographer should create that relaxed atmosphere. The more she feels comfy, the more your session gets productive.

7. Look and shoot. Listen and shoot. 

Beautiful shots were captured in between frames when no one’s looking. Be that ultimate hunter in the wild. Keep your finger on the shutter.


One thought on “Simple Tips to Direct a Portrait Shoot

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