How to Shoot Portraits in a Professional Photo Studio: Do’s and Don’ts

How to Shoot Portraits in a Professional Photo Studio

How to Shoot Portraits in a Professional Photo Studio: Do’s and Don’ts

06:29 24 November in Photography Blog

When taking standard non-fashion portrait shots in a professional photo studio there are several rules of thumb you may want to consider or follow. Below are some of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to showing a person in a professional manner and in flattering light.

Remember, there are not really any unbreakable rules when it comes to photography, but you may want to follow these tips if you’re trying to improve your professional photo studio portrait images.


  • Avoid high contrast and deep shadows as well as harsh highlights on the person’s forehead.
  • Bring their eyes to life by having catchlights in them. A catchlight is a light source which will usually create a specular highlight the eyes of your subject.
  • Make sure there’s enough light in their eyes. Be careful not to place the key light too high since it can result in too many shadows on the brows.
  • Use a grey seamless background since the color of it can easily be changed afterwards in a photo-editing program such as Photoshop.
  • When you’re after flattering compression, you should use a longer focal length such as 85mm-to 200mm on full frame.
  • Use a relatively soft source of light such as an octa, softbox, or beauty dish along with a diffusion sock.
  • Make sure that the white balance is accurate for attractive skin tones by using a grey card and then fine tuning.
  • Be sure to separate your model from the background. For example, don’t shoot a person with a black shirt on a black background or a subject with a red dress on a red background. You can create separation between your model and the background with a back light or rim light.
  • Retouch the image professionally by touching up the skin and brightening the teeth and/or eyes. However, it’s a good idea to discuss this with your model first.


  • Don’t use glamour glow, soft focus, or overdone Gaussian Blur skin softening as you don’t want to turn the image into something too soft.
  • Avoid doing too much contrast correction as it can result in your model having a halo around his or her head.
  • If you add too much fill light or use excessive frontal light you may find that the shadows will completely disappear. You may want to retain some of the shadowing since they can be made to look flattering. It’s good to remember that while the light reveals, the shadows will define.
  • Don’t use HDR (high dynamic range imaging) on your portrait.
  • You shouldn’t edit out or retouch any of your subject’s defining facial features unless they ask you to do so. This refers to things such as freckles, moles, beauty marks, and perhaps even scars. They may want a true image of their face with no editing at all.

These are just some ideas to consider, but of course, a great shot is a unique one. So, be creative, try new things and find your style.

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