8 Common Portrait Photography Mistakes You Should Avoid

Portraiture can be a minefield for small but detracting mistakes that hinder an otherwise great shot. Here are eight common mistakes to avoid.

Karl Taylor takes superb portraits, and recently when followers of his submitted portraits to him for review, he noticed some common problems and decided to lay them out in a video. They're all certainly considerations you ought to keep at the forefront of your mind when planning or shooting portraits. Rather than discusses his, however, I'll add one extra of my own.

One of the most common mistakes I see is regarding color. With all that's going on in a portrait shoot it can be easy to forget to consider color, but it can so easily make or break an image. Ask yourself whether the colors of the garment, make-up, hair, accessories, props, and background all make sense. Do they synergize well? Are they complementary or analogous? Prominent colors in an image that aren't thought through and just happen to be the color they are can strip away a lot of a good image's impact.

What are the most common portrait mistakes you see?

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Scott McDonald's picture

If I could choose one of these eight as something that would really help my own portraiture (as well as many others I see)...it would be selecting the appropriate background. I find that too many great shots suffer from a distracting background turning a nicely composed and lighted photo into what looks like a simple snapshot.

Kirk Darling's picture

I see that recognizing the pictorial elements of the background appears to be a common modern problem for photographers whose only consideration of the background is to obliterate it with a super-wide aperture.

They often get tunneled onto the subject in their viewfinders and don't even notice how the blurred masses of tone and color behind the subject will appear in the resulting 2D image.

Accelerated Recovery's picture

Thank you very much for sharing the great photo shot. I know this girl. She is an actress and model. Do you have more pics of this photo shoot?