Portrait Photography Tips and Tricks

Written By: The Planet D

I love photographing people when we travel.


A good portrait should give the viewer a sense of who your subject is. They should get a feeling of what it is like to be there with you in moment.

Here are a few simple techniques and tips I use to capture my subjects personalities in their true forms .

Fill the frame tips people travel
Fill the frame

1. Fill the Frame: This is important. You can accomplish this in one of two ways. Get close and personal or use a zoom lense. For me I like to get close. It lets me talk and get to know the person that I am photographing. Filling the frame draws the viewer in and makes a connection. That is not to say that I have not used my zoom lens. Walking in a market or on the street is a great time to zoom in on a subject.

Get that connection with the eyes!

2. The Eyes: They are known as “the window to the soul” for a reason. There is something to be said for those candid shots you can snap with your zoom lens, but nothing comes close to capturing the true personality of a subject than the eyes. So when you photograph people, wait for the moment that they look at you. Capture the eyes and you capture a connection.

Look at the background

3. The Background: I have seen so many photographs of people ruined by background distractions. Even if it is out of focus you must pay attention to what is behind the subject. A color or object sticking out of the top of ones head is something I see often. It is usually just a matter of adjusting your shooting angle and it can be avoided. Also try and relate what is in the background with the subject in the frame, it will add context to the photograph .So before you press the shutter button, look past the subject and into the background. Your viewers will appreciate it.


4. Choose the right lens: When I am photographing people I tend to keep the focal length between 35mm and 135mm. When shooting with the wider angle make sure to use a large aperture. This will help to ensure the background is out of focus and create separation allowing your subject to stand out from his/her surroundings. When using 85-135mm focal length you can benefit from the shallower depth of field allowing the background to be more out of focus.


5.The Right Light: Soft light is what you want when photographing people. That cloudy day or diffused light coming through the window is flattering when shooting a portrait. Hard light is, well, too harsh. It usually accentuates unwanted features. Try to avoid shooting at high noon as the light is very “toppy” causing unflattering shadows. Wait until later in the afternoon or get up early in the morning to catch the best light. Train yourself to look for the best lighting conditions and remember, when the clouds roll in don’t put away your camera, this is the perfect time to photograph some people.

So there you have it. My top 5 tips and tricks for getting the best photos of people while you travel.

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

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Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

13 thoughts on “Portrait Photography Tips and Tricks”

  1. Portrait Photography is an art itself. It describes a story of a person. These tips are extremely useful for the portrait photographers. I personally felt that the tips will help the beginners in a high scale.

  2. Great skills. Really photography is an art, technology can help you to do your best but practice makes you perfect. You can insert feeling in an image if you are a good artist.

  3. I’ve just bought myself a mirorless Nikon 1 j1 with its stock lens. I am now wondering what lens I should get to have fading background.

  4. Excellent portraits and extremely useful tips. Travel photography is undoubtedly one of the challenging forms of photography and you are already a master in it.Wish you loads of shuttercounts ahead Dave..