You don’t need lots of cash for stunning portraits with these seven newbie tips

Mar 29, 2024

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

You don’t need lots of cash for stunning portraits with these seven newbie tips

Mar 29, 2024

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Join the Discussion

Share on:

YouTube video

As a newbie photographer, you might feel discouraged because you think you need fancy equipment to take great portraits. In this video from B&H, Lotta Milde goes through some great tips that will make you get out there and take photos without overthinking it.

Light is key

Lotta emphasizes that light is the foundation of great photography. And we all have it readily available: natural light! Use its power when you’re just starting out; you definitely don’t need studio lighting or even an external flash. Experiment by shooting at different times of day and positioning your subject at different angles. The soft, golden light of dawn and dusk (The Golden Hour) is a go-to light for many portrait photographers. I also like it (on the rare occasions I take portrait photos), but I like overcast days even better. They create gorgeous, diffused light flattering to every subject’s face.

On the other hand, the harsh midday sun is known as the enemy. But worry not – you can overcome this obstacle. Find a shadow and position your subject there to avoid the harsh shadows on the face.

Artificial lighting

While natural light is fantastic, don’t be afraid to experiment with artificial lighting. Believe it or not, even a simple on-camera flash can add creative effects. There are many ways to use it, and in this article you’ll find plenty of great techniques. You can also go with affordable options like colored LED lights for a more artistic touch.

For inspiration, here’s a self-portrait I took using a shiny purse and a smartphone flashlight (more here).

selfportrait shiny purse

Look around you

Okay, you have your light, you have your camera and lens, but what about the studio? Once again, you’ll find it in your surroundings or your room. Even the most boring location can be turned into a portrait backdrop if you’re creative enough – and I’m sure you are. :) You’ll find some tips here, and here’s another self-portrait example I love. I took it in my room in the late afternoon, using nothing but sunlight.

emotional selfportrait

Get creative

You can also get creative with all kinds of props, mirrors, and various reflective windows outside. Play with positioning your subject to capture interesting reflections.

Gear up (smartly!)

Lotta advises using the camera you already have, whether it’s your phone or a dedicated camera. If upgrading, consider investing in a good lens over a camera body. Lenses have a significant impact on image quality, and they also don’t have to be expensive. You can buy them second-hand, go for vintage lenses… And even buying a new one doesn’t have to be expensive. My favorite one (50mm f/1.8) costs $150 new!

Invest in yourself

Instead of investing in your gear when starting out, invest in yourself. The most valuable investment you can make is in your own knowledge. Watch tutorials, read photography books, but most importantly – keep practicing! Experimentation is key to finding your style and honing your skills.

Bonus tip: start small

Lotta encourages you to start small. There’s no need for a massive equipment setup right away. As you experiment and discover your preferences, you can gradually add gear to your collection. Also, it’s good to get to know your current gear well before moving on. Only this way will you know what exactly you need in an upgrade.

Remember, stunning portraits are about capturing a connection, a moment, or an emotion. With a little creativity and these budget-friendly tips, you’ll be well on your way to taking captivating portraits that go beyond expensive equipment.

[How to Shoot Portraits on a Budget | B&H Photo Video Pro Audio]

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *