Common Portrait Mistakes You’ll Want to Avoid

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Portrait photography is hard. There’s a lot to think about including:

  • Getting the lighting right
  • What lens to use
  • Composition
  • Posing
  • Working with a model or subject
  • Post-processing (how much is enough or too much)
  • And so on . . .

So here are three videos with some tips to help you avoid some of the most commonly made mistakes in portrait photography.

5 Portrait Photography Don’ts

In this video, photographer Manny Ortiz shows you five things NOT to do when shooting portraits.

  • Don’t go to your favorite or best location first during a shoot.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment and take bad photos.
  • Don’t hide behind your camera.
  • Don’t over pose your subject, give them directions.
  • Don’t shoot too conservatively.

7 Common Studio Portrait Lighting Mistakes

Watch as photographer Antti Karppinen walks you through seven of the most common studio portrait lighting mistakes beginners make so you can avoid them. Where you position your main and fill lights, as well as how strong they are can make or break your portrait.

3 More Common Portrait Mistakes

Finally, in this video tip from Adorama TV, Miguel Quiles gives us three more common portrait mistakes.

  1. Not communicating with your model or subject.
  2. Not having the eyes in sharp focus.
  3. Not making sure the subject’s eyes are facing in the right direction.

Over to you. Have you got any other portrait photography mistakes you’d add to the ones mentioned here? Please add your comments below.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Darlene Hildebrandt is an educator who teaches aspiring amateurs and hobbyists how to improve their skills through articles on her site Digital Photo Mentor, online photography classes, and travel tours to exotic places like Morocco and India. To help you at whatever level you're at she has two email mini-courses. Sign up for her free beginner OR portrait photography email mini-course here. Or get both, no charge!

  • Loved the video on the 5 portrait photo don’ts!!!

  • Ashley

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  • Linda Tillis

    Thanks, Manny Ortiz, for the great video. I was SO glad to hear you say don’t shoot conservatively. My daughter is in a dance troupe and I am their photographer and sometimes I come home with 300 shots, and yes, it is a pain to go through them all. But, when you get that one great shot, it is worth it. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/990015e0e009f3349704473e22b913d5a3f248707abba6c0be860cf65c2411b5.jpg

  • Keith R. Starkey

    Nice. Very nice. What’s so funny is that the image was only showing the upper half, and I was thinking, Man, there’s just to much distraction, what with the photographer having only taken the upper half of her. And then I saw the “More” button, and voila!
    Great color, too. I love the golds and yellows against the pink skin tones. Pretty cool! It’s only unfortunate (but not too much) that you see this guy’s legs on the left. Oh well, what can you do!

  • Keith R. Starkey

    Thanks, Darlene, for the article and vids.

  • Tracey Vivar

    Antii would be more effective if you showed the correct lighting along w/the wrong set up.

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