Posing for portrait photography

There are many things to take note when learning to take portrait photography. You can’t just ask the person to stand somewhere, take your camera and just shoot and hope for the best. A vacation family photo can be taken just like that. But to achieve more some additional understanding about basic portrait photography will be needed.

It is fine to fill in the frame, get close up to catch the appearance of a person’s features. Sometimes you want to enhance the picture and thus you have to tell your subject to position in a way to get a better portrait shot.

The head positions

Dead centre look straight in the camera is the usual norm, but there other head positions that you can shoot for variety in your portrait photography. Let’s see some of the head positions that you can take.

Seven-Eights View – have the subject looking slightly away from your camera. You will see a little more of one side of the face than the other, however both the ears will be visible when the picture is taken.

Portrait photography of girl using seven-eights view.
Portrait photography of girl using seven-eights view.

Three-Quarters View – The head is turn somewhat more than the above blocking the view of one of the ears and more of one side of the face will be visible. The far eye will appear smaller as it is further from the camera. Do note that people’s eyes are not balance so take note of the person’s eye. The smaller eye should be placed closer to the camera which would result in a more balance perspective of the eyes.

Profile View – This pose reminds me of those prison jailhouse mug shots with the head at a right angle to the camera. The best profile view is when the head is angled just about when you can’t see the far side eye lashes. Of course you are taking candid photos you won’t have the luxury to tell your subject to turn their head slowly to get your perfect profile view shot!


Have your subject sit straight towards you and what you get is a standard passport photograph. Most of us detest our passport and identity card photos because the photo just looked terrible. So likewise if you do so with your digital photography you get the same refugee escape from prison type picture! Another issue with dead head on pictures is that it makes the person look broader. Of course if you want to show off a masculine picture like an athlete, showing off the athlete size and mass, this dead on style would be acceptable. Let’s see if we can make a better head and shoulder photo.

Candid portrait photography taken during a wedding reception photo session.
Candid portrait photography taken during a wedding reception photo session

To improve a shoulder photograph, have your subject’s shoulders turned at an angle to the camera. That way you sort of slim down the person portrait. Everybody wants to look slim and I’m sure the ladies would want to look slim as well, so have them turn at an angle or if you are going candid, perhaps have yourself move to a one side to get a shot off in an angled shoulder position.

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