When we think of photographing people, we automatically think of taking a portrait, but not all people photography is portraiture. A photographic portrait focuses on the person and attempts to convey an image of what or who the person is, whether physically, or perhaps spiritually or emotionally. However, people can also be photographed in other ways, where the focus might not be the individuals being photographed, but the social or cultural context (fashion, news events, sporting events etc.) or their relationship to the scene in which they are placed.


Learn how to set up a photo session, organize a studio, create different types of effects, and compose elements of an image to convey the desired impression. This course is highly practical, giving you plenty of opportunity to concentrate in those areas of people photography which are of most concern to you. It includes categories of photography such as fashion, action, nude, wedding, street, portraiture.

This course is designed for persons who already have some experience with photography; to help them develop their ability to take better photographs of people.


There are ten lessons as follows:

1. Introduction

  • Common Considerations (People move, moods are uncontrollable, people dress differently, subjects can change)
  • Digital or Film
  • Resources
  • Photo Composition
  • Unity
  • Balance
  • Proportion
  • Harmony
  • Contrast
  • Rhythm
  • Line
  • Form
  • Mass
  • Space
  • Texture
  • Colour
  • Patterns
  • Tone
  • Camera Techniques
  • Principles of Light
  • Mood
  • Colour Control
  • Terminology

2. Equipment, Materials and Studio Work

  • Lenses
  • Aperture
  • Type of film
  • Digital
  • Filters
  • Lighting
  • Basic Studio
  • Flash

3. Basic Techniques

  • Body Language
  • Clusters
  • Context
  • Culture
  • Willingness of Subject
  • Hiding and Highlighting Features
  • Informal or Formal
  • Enhance character with surroundings
  • Composition and lighting
  • Subject
  • Context
  • Subject Placement
  • Lines and Paths
  • Creating Effects
  • Composition
  • Rule of Thirds
  • Rapport
  • Subject Placement
  • Lighting
  • Lenses
  • Setting the Scene
  • Developing a Portrait Style

4. Portraiture

  • Studio
  • Outdoor
  • Available Light
  • The Face
  • Portraiture
  • Procedure
  • Posing

5. Wedding Photography

  • Introduction
  • Creating Romance
  • Managing People
  • Planning
  • Other Considerations
  • Digital Wedding Equipment
  • Lighting (Rain, Sun, Dull days)

6. Candid Photography

  • Introduction
  • Candid Techniques
  • Photographing Events
  • Outdoor and Indoor
  • The Photo Essay
  • Model Release Forms

7. Nude Photography (Note; This does not require students to study or take erotic photos or photos of naked bodies. Nude photography involves learning how to capture an image of exposed skin -whether that be a man with a bare chest, a hand modelling a ring, or something else). It is important to learn to photograph the body with a purpose, and if the skill of avoiding being erotic is just as important as anything else.

  • Study of the Human Form in Western Art
  • Nude or Naked
  • Cultural Conventions
  • Athletic, Dynamic Nudes
  • The Nude in Nature
  • Portraits and Self Portraits
  • Bedroom Nudes
  • Erotic and Pornographic Nudes
  • Nude Photography

8. Sports, Street and Action Photography

  • Sports
  • Equipment
  • Freezing Action
  • Blurring Movement
  • Panning
  • Viewpoint
  • Digital Cameras
  • Sports photography tips
  • Streetscapes
  • Water as a setting for photography

9. Fashion Photography

  • Guidelines for Fashion and Glamour Photography
  • Special Equipment and Techniques
  • Fault Finding

10. Folio Project

  • Introduction
  • Purpose of a Folio
  • Types of Folio
  • Framing
  • Other Ways to Use Your work
  • Create a photo essay or portrait album

Duration: 100 hours



  • Identify resources that could improve your ability to photograph people, examining the principles of photography and also exploring the issues related to digital photography.
  • Discuss the preparation for a photo shoot by exploring the different equipment and materials needed for a successful shoot. Also examine lighting a subject within a studio setting and explores digital photography issues
  • Discuss techniques used for taking photos of people
  • Improve your ability to shoot better portraiture photographs.
  • Explain the issues and applications concerned with wedding photography.
  • Take better candid photos of people.
  • Describe how to take appropriate nude photos for different situations.
  • Describe how to take action photos of people.
  • Describe how to take better glamour and fashion photos.
  • Compile a folio of people photography.

Getting Started with Portraits

Some of the first portrait photographers had exposures so long that the subject’s heads had to be clamped in place in order to avoid blur. Often special studios were setup with the huge windows to allow more light on the subject. Photography became more affordable to people for recording their image and that of family members.  The alternative was a formal painting. As photography developed into the portrait market, the portrait painters of the time were forced into other subject matter and approaches to painting. Thus the art movements like the Impressionists developed in painting around 1870’s.

Posing for Portraits
The eyes are you main focus on most portraits. These will connect your image with the viewer. Try to ensure the eyes are well-lit and avoid the nose cutting thought the eye in a ¾ shot. 
The main areas of skin, the face, neck, chest and shoulders should not in most cases be too close to the edge of the frame. Look at these areas as a connecting diamond shape then compose your shot to complement and balance this shape.

You can also use hands within the frame to lightly touch areas of the diamond shape. Two hands are acceptable, but try and balance them and avoid symmetrical looks such as both hands placed evenly along either side of the face. 
Soft draped ballet hands are better than stiff hands. 
Avoid having hands cut off by the edge of the image. 
It you need to crop the frame and cut off legs or arms its best to do it at the joints e.g. elbows, wrist, knees and ankles.

Make sure the subject is relaxed and feeling good about their personal image. Provide positive feedback throughout the shoot to keep your subject happy, natural and relaxed (or energised if that is the mood for the shoot). Rapport has a lot to do with your personality and your ability to make the subject feel at ease and instill their trust in you. It often helps to show the subject a few images to promote the feeling; this is a team effort, and you are working together. 
There are many different approaches to the actual taking of the photo some photographers tell the subject when they press the shutter, they may count down, others may not tell the subject anything at all. It is best to try different approaches, to see what fits best for you both and your personality and then check what worked best in getting that look you were after, from the subject.

Directing a Model 
Before you begin shooting inexperienced models, you need to be aware of every facet of how the model looks and be aware that they do not know what YOU can see through YOUR lens. Don't over-direct the model i.e. by instructing the model to move an arm a centimetre this way then a finger that way. A more general instruction is a better approach. 

The interaction between the photographer and model needs to be cooperative and positive at all times. If the model is relaxed and confident in the photographer’s ability to direct them, they will take direction much better. A good photographer will have refined communication skills, will listen and understand what the model says, and will be encouraging and express gratitude to the model.
Be sure to ask the model for their consent, before you touch them to help position a pose.
Different photographers will direct models in different ways, and the best approach to directing may depend upon both what is being photographed and who is involved in the shoot.

Sometimes, micro-managing the positioning of the subject’s body may work; while at other times, this can be very uncomfortable and create tension for the model, and it is very ineffective if the photographer has limited experience.