Portrait Photography

Portrait photography can be one of the easiest or most challenging types of photography. Almost anyone with a camera can do it, yet getting the perfect lighting can sometimes be difficult. Sometimes simply pointing a camera at someone and snapping a picture creates an interesting portrait; other times elaborate lighting setups may be needed to create a mood or to add drama to your subject.

A portrait, simply stated, is the likeness of a person — usually the subject's face — whether it is a drawing, a painting, or a photograph. A good portrait should go farther than that. It should go beyond showing your subject's likeness and delve a bit deeper, revealing some of your subject's character or emotion.


A good portrait should capture some personality of the subject. Exposure: ISO 200, f/4, 1/320 second using a Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 OS at 70mm.

Portrait Settings

One of the most important parts of portrait photography is finding, or more likely creating, a suitable setting that captures the mood you want to project with the image. For a subdued or moody portrait, a dark background, such as black, dark gray, and brown, works best. If you're going for a more high-fashion look, keeping the background bright and uncluttered is the norm. White backgrounds work exceptionally well for fashion, though brightly colored backgrounds can work as well.

You can also ...

Get Nikon® D7000™ now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.