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How to Take Pro Portraits as a Beginner Photographer

Tips and tricks on everything from color correction to composition
Photo of pro portrait tips

Even if you’re just starting out in photography, you can still shoot head-turning portraits. One way to quickly improve your portrait skills is to take a class, either in person or online, with a professional photographer.

But if you don’t have the time or money for that, another great place to start is the below video from photographer AJ Simmons who shares his tips and tricks on how to take pro portraits as a beginner at home. Simmons himself says the way he got started on his career as a professional portrait photographer capturing the likes of Snoop Dogg, Seth Rogen and Zendaya was through watching instructional YouTube videos.

“YouTube has taught me a lot as a self-taught photographer,” Simmons says. “Everything I’ve learned from the technical aspect of photography has come from YouTube, whether that be lighting, learning settings, specific gear I needed. It was all on YouTube.”

But, he adds, one thing he couldn’t find on YouTube was a simple portrait tutorial from a fashion photographer perspective, which is why he has created one now.

“I’ve been shooting portraits for over a decade, and I thought I could make a nice video for you guys just to show you my process,” Simmons explains. “Hopefully it can help you take better photos whether you’re shooting from home, you’re shooting on an iPhone, you’re shooting on a DSLR. Portraits are a really good entry-point to get into photography. It helps you understand lighting, it helps you understand people, direction, and it’s just really fun to do.”

As he notes, you can capture portraits of just about anyone, “whether it’s a family member, your friends.” The best part is these skills will translate to other types of photography as well. “It’s very handy to know how to take portraits,” he says. “It can get you into wedding photography, taking actors headshots, commercial photography, beauty etc.”

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Check out the free, over 30-minute video below where Simmons shares portrait photography tips on everything from composition to color correction. For more portrait photography advice, jump over to this tutorial afterwards with five easy poses to make regular people look like models.

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