Portrait Photography: Where To Get Started

If you’re looking to learn more about portrait photography, we’ve put together some of our most popular classes to help you learn how to shoot creative portraiture with any camera, in any location.

These classes will teach you the fundamentals of portrait photography, all the way from shooting with natural light, to mastering studio portraiture. You’ll learn important skills like how to work in the studio or on location, how to control light in small spaces, and how to shoot commercial portraiture like business or environmental portraits. You’ll also come to understand what camera settings to use for photographing people, what lenses to use and why, and also how to identify and work in the best locations.

To make it simpler to find the best classes for you, we’ve divided our recommendations into two main categories: creative-style portraiture and commercial-style portraiture.

Getting Started With Portrait Photography

Before you get started, these classes will lay the groundwork and cover some important concepts and techniques as you progress and develop your skills.

Studio lighting class

Introduction & Understanding Light

To truly understand how to use studio lighting you first have to understand light. Learn about the fundamental concepts that will help you control light, no matter what you’re shooting.

Key concepts: Hard light vs soft light • Inverse Square Law • Controlling light • Reflectors & negative fill

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Portrait photography lens

Lens Choices For Studio Work

When it comes to portraiture and beauty work, lens choice can make a big difference. See the results from multiple lens comparisons and learn which lenses are best for photographing people.

Key concepts: Lens comparisons • Lenses for portrait photography

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White backgrounds for photography

Creating Clean White Backgrounds

Creating a white background isn't always as easy as it sounds. Learn how to avoid overexposing your image and reduce flare to get the best results.

Key concepts: Creating white backgrounds • Avoiding flare • Achieving the best exposure

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Creative Portrait Photography

Natural Light Portrait Photography

If you don't have any studio lights, you can get some creative results with just your camera, natural light and a reflector. These classes will help you get started and learn how to create amazing results.

Natural light portraiture

Autumnal Orchard

Make the most of magical autumn light with this class. You’ll learn how to plan for portrait shoots on location, use reflectors and choose the best camera settings for portrait photography.

Key concepts: Camera settings • Backlighting • Using reflectors

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Indoor portrait photography

Historical Buildings

Get creative with portrait photography indoors and learn how to make the most of poor lighting conditions using reflectors and appropriate camera settings.

Key concepts: Finding interesting locations • Shooting indoors • Low light photography

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Sunset portrait photography

On The Coast

Using the warm, evening sunlight, this portrait shoot couldn’t be easier. Learn how to use the soft, warm glow of the setting sun, combined with reflectors, to capture stunning portraits.

Key concepts: The Magic Hour • Camera settings for portraiture • Composition • Posing

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One Light Portrait Lighting Setups

If you're just starting out or only have one or two studio lights, take a look at our one light setups to see just how creative you can get with minimal equipment.

Portrait photography class

Soft Single Light

Learn how to correctly use one of the most commonly used modifiers — a softbox — to create an incredibly soft light for easy, flattering portraiture.

Key concepts: Softbox lighting setups • How to control light • Working in a small studio • Inverse square law

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Portrait lighting setup

Contoured Single Soft Light

An ideal setup for those working in a small space, this class teaches you how to create a beautiful, soft contoured lighting using just one light.

Key concepts: How to control light • Working in a small studio • Using reflectors • How to create soft light

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Creative portrait ideas

Simulating Sun And Shadow

Using just a single light and a piece of black card, learn how to creatively combine shadow and light to produce a stunning result, even in a small space.

Key concepts: Controlling light & shadow • Bare bulb lighting setups • Tips for working in a small studio • Using flags

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Artistic Portraiture Setups

Once you've mastered the basics of portrait photography, take your pick from our selection of additional portraiture classes.

High-key portrait photography

Three Light High-Key Fashion

Create high-key fashion-style images using just three lights with this portrait photography class, as Karl shows you how to balance multiple lights and control the hardness and softness of the light.

Key concepts: High-key photography • Rim lighting • Umbrella lighting setups

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Portrait photography class

Precision Lighting

Learn how to effectively use low levels of light and strong contrast for a mysteriously creative effect. This technique can be achieved by using careful control of light and some precise lighting modifiers.

Key concepts: Controlling light • Using grids & snoots • Achieving the correct exposure

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Creative portrait photography

Colour plays an important role in photography, as you’ll see in this class. Watch and learn as Karl uses a four light setup and some clever post production tweaks to achieve his final image.

Key concepts: Professional lighting modifiers • Adjusting colour • Outfit choice

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Commercial Portrait Photography

Lifestyle Portrait Photography

If you're looking to make money with your photography, take a look at some of these popular and creative shoot ideas that cover using natural light or studio lights.

Group portraiture

Family & Group Portraiture

Learn how to take great family and group portraits with this class, as Karl outlines the key things to think about to ensure a successful shoot and happy client.

Key concepts: Finding interesting locations • Lighting techniques • Arranging groups • Using reflectors

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Photographing couples

Couples & Engagement Photography

Couples and engagement photography is a lucrative market, so it’s useful to know the techniques, effective camera settings and how to pose couples.

Key concepts: Posing couples • Composition techniques • Outfit selection • Using reflectors •  Camera settings

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Studio portrait lighting

Soft And Fresh Lighting

Take control of your shoots in the studio and learn how to create soft light for flattering portraits with this versatile four-light studio setup - suitable for small studios and perfect for quick but effective portraits or group shots.

Key concepts: Creating white backgrounds • Lighting for group portraits • Working in a small space • High-key lighting

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Business Portrait Photography

Whether you’re working in the studio or on location, learn about effective lighting setups and tips for business portrait photography that will help you produce great results your clients will be happy with. 

Learn business portrait photography

Business Portrait Theory

Before you head out to shoot your first business portrait, take the time to learn about some of the more theoretical elements that will help build your confidence and impress your client.

Key concepts: Using call sheets • Posing people • Selecting images for the client •  Recommended equipment

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Business portrait lighting

Instant Business Portrait

This quick and simple two-light setup is ideal for portraiture and even business portraits, both on location or in the studio. You'll learn how to balance multiple lights, what camera settings to use and how to diffuse light.

Key concepts: Business portrait lighting • Diffused lighting for portraiture • Balancing multiple lights • Background choice

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Business portrait photography on location

Small Office Space Portrait

When shooting business portraits on location, you often have to deal with working in small spaces with ambient light. Learn how to overcome both of these challenges in this class.

Key concepts: Balancing mixed lighting • Shooting on location • Composition techniques • Posing people

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Environmental Portrait Photography

Learn how to create professional portraits of people in their workplace. Whether you’re photographing a CEO in their office or baker in their shop, learn techniques such as lighting, composing and posing to help you shoot with confidence in any situation.

Professional portrait of people at work

Electronics Worker

Karl demonstrates how to overcome common challenges associated with environmental portraiture as he photographs a broncolor electronics worker.

Key concepts: Working in a cluttered environment • Balancing mixed lighting • Communicating with your subject

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Environmental portrait photography

Cake Designer

Take complete control of your lighting with this class, where Karl shows how to create a bright, fresh environmental portrait of a cake designer while working in a small, dark basement.

Key concepts: Photographing environmental portraits • Working in small spaces • Composition techniques

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Environmental portrait example


Learn how to photograph professional portraits of people and animals on location as Karl demonstrates how to cut out ambient light and create moody lighting even in bright daylight.

Key concepts: Combining natural light and flash • Cutting out bright daylight • Camera settings

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This small selection of classes will help you get into portrait photography by covering some of the fundamental knowledge and skills to help you take creative imagery that sells. If you’re looking for more portrait photography ideas, take a look at our other portrait photography classes.

FREE: 40 Posing Ideas for Portraiture

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