What makes a Good Portrait Photo!

Updated: Feb 14

To create a good portrait photo requires a combination of of good styling, good hair & makeup, good lighting, a creative or beautiful pose, equally a model with good expression and finally an element of good retouching in Lightroom or Photoshop. Neglecting any one of these key elements will reduce the quality of the final image. As the photographer, you are the director, you a responsible for everything.


As the photographer, you need to avoid any wardrobe malfunction on the day of the shoot. You need to have your models send you photos of a range of outfits at least 1 week before the scheduled photoshoot. Models should pick something dressy, casual, a winter/summer outfit, business attire, gym wear etc. It is best to pick clothing/outfits of plain solid colours avoiding prints, patterns and floral outfits as they can be distracting in the final image. Fitted outfits are better than baggy or oversized clothes. Stay tuned, I plan to post a styling blog in the near future.

Hair & Makeup

In many cases, the model's own hair and make-up is fine. Bringing in professional hair and make-up artist will add a professional value to the final image. Nails should not be overlooked, in a photo our eyes are drawn to the face and to hands so fingernails need to be clean or French tipped. Stay tuned, I plan to post a hair & makeup blog in the near future.


When it comes to lighting, the placement of your lights are used to create beautiful or moody lighting effects on the final image. Stay tuned, I plan to post a lighting blog in the near future.


As the photographer, you are responsible for the posing the model. Experienced models may know certain poses and what looks best for them, which is an advantage but you still need to communicate and instruct the model into the poses you want. Stay tuned, I plan to post a posing blog in the near future.


Expression is so important. No one wants a sad lifeless expression unless that is the mood of the photo. Its funny but it is also true, a smile begins in the eyes. The model needs to engage with the photographer to great stunning photos. Stay tuned, I plan to post a expression blog in the near future.


I shoot all my photos in RAW, which means the sensor on my camera captures the best image quality. I use Lightroom to process my RAW images adding a little contrast here and there and retouching skin blemishes so the person looks there best in the final image. Stay tuned, I plan to post a retouching blog in the near future.


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© 2019 by  Cathal Bowe.