Portraits are special. They embody the unique essence of the subject, and capture a moment in time. When done well, portraits can evoke strong emotions and tell powerful stories. However, capturing authentic and expressive portraits can be challenging, especially for new photographers. Here are some tips to help you create stunning portraits that truly reflect the essence of your subject.

1. Get to Know Your Subject

Before you start shooting, take time to get to know your subject. Learn about their personality, their likes and dislikes, and their background. This will help you create an environment where your subject feels comfortable and relaxed, and where they can express their personality and emotions freely.

2. Pay Attention to Lighting

Lighting is crucial in photography, and it can make or break a portrait. Natural light is often the best option for capturing authentic and expressive portraits. Try to avoid harsh shadows and direct light, and instead opt for soft, diffused light that flatters your subject’s face. Remember that the quality and direction of light can drastically affect the mood and tone of your portrait.

3. Use Props and Settings to Add Depth and Context

Props and settings can add depth and context to your portraits, and help convey a story or message. However, make sure that your props and settings are relevant and meaningful, and not distracting or overwhelming. When in doubt, stick to a simple and uncluttered background that puts the focus squarely on your subject.

4. Encourage Your Subject to Be Themselves

Portraits are all about capturing the unique essence of your subject, so encourage them to be themselves and express their personality and emotions freely. Make them feel comfortable and relaxed, and give them direction when needed. Don’t be afraid to try different poses and expressions, and don’t hesitate to take candid shots as well.

5. Post-Processing Is Your Friend, but Don’t Overdo It

Post-processing can help enhance your portraits and bring out their true essence. However, don’t go overboard with it, as it can easily look unnatural and artificial. Try to keep your edits subtle, and remember that less is often more.


Capturing authentic and expressive portraits is all about creating a comfortable and relaxed environment, paying attention to lighting, using props and settings to add depth and context, encouraging your subject to be themselves, and using post-processing to enhance your shots without overdoing it. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to capturing stunning portraits that truly embody the essence of your subject.