You know when people take terrible photos of you that they think are actually GOOD. For example, either half your head is cut off, or your eyes aren’t open, or there’s a huge piece of hair across your face. Well, your friends might be feeling the same about your photography skills. (I know about that life lol.)

Unfortunately, not all of our friends can be “Instagram boyfriends” and have the patience to take stunning shots of us. Often times our friends and?loved ones need a few tips to be pointed in the right direction.

In order to up my portrait photography skills, I teamed up with Vero Kherian, a portrait and wedding photographer, to create a list of tips for better portraits. These are quick, easy tips- and you don’t need a fancy camera to apply them. If you learn these few tips, your portraits will be SO MUCH better. I promise.

1) Lighting is key–certain light accentuates wrinkles and makes deep shadows, some light softens wrinkles and evens out your complexion. Find a light that flatters you and what you want to highlight. For example, if it’s a super sunny day and you want softer lighting, step into the shade before taking a shot. All the make up in the world is not going to fix bad lighting. You’re welcome ;-).

Side note: I did not wear sunscreen this day. Katey would be so disappointed. ALWAYS wear sunscreen!

2) The eye loves asymmetry. It’s more interesting than a perfectly symmetrical shot. This is Beatrice- she’s the Harold to my Kumar, and I asked her to pose because she is wayyyy less awkward than I am. Notice how she looks much more natural when she stands asymmetrically.


3) Dressing Appropriately–If you want to highlight the person, wear the simplest clothes possible. Otherwise, it becomes a fashion photo (which is OK. Just know what you want to highlight). The patterned paisley is a bit too noisy for a portrait. On the left, I covered the busy pattern San Francisco-style (with army jacket). Thank goodness- the Presidio is SO cold.


4) Movement. incorporate movement into your photo to make it more vibrant. This is kind of like the asymmetry thing.


5) The background. Everything in the frame is important–keep an eye out for distractions (like trash cans, people, cars, etc) before snapping the photo. Whenever I take a photo, I tend to scan the foreground, Add to dictionary, and background for any distractions.

This shot took FOREVER to get because I’m an awkward turtle. This is how it went…

Vero: Act natural!

Me: (makes awkward face)

Vero: Smile! Why are you holding your hand like that?

Me: I’m sorry! I use a computer mouse all day!

Ugh. Phew- we finally got the shot.

As you can see, in the left photo, Mr. Cheesemonger is photobombing the frame. Seriously, watch out of distractions in the background, they’ll really improve your photos.

6) Don’t turtle your neck. This one is kind of hard to explain. Push your face towards the camera. Ya know when you give yourself a triple chin to be funny on Snap Chat? Do the opposite of that.This will elongate your neck and ensure you look like a beautiful swan. Take a look at the photos in #4. The wrong photo has a turtle neck & the right one is more elongated.

7) Be happy. Vero says it’s easy to tell when someone is unhappy or tired in a photograph. It makes sense right? Try thinking of a happy memory when someone’s taking a photo of you – you’ll have a more genuine expression, rather than a forced smile.

Vero Kherian is an SF portrait and wedding photographer, AND she also has a cheese blog. In her past life, she was a lawyer #brainisthenewass. On top of all that, she’s also a legitimately cool person #nicegirlsclub & I’m not just saying that.

She’s down-to-Earth, easy to talk to, and has quite the sense of humor. Before our photoshoot, she arrived armed with a detailed list of ideas, organized phone calls, and made sure her subject (me) felt comfortable with the shots. At Violet Fog, we love supporting local artists, so if you have an upcoming event you’d like to photograph, hit Vero up. Here’s a preview of some of her work.

Also, send this article to your friends, family, and other people that may be taking your photo in the future. 😉


About The Author

Radhika The Snobby Foodie

Senior Writer || Snob in Chief at The Snobby Foodie || ENTJ || Once went to four coffee shops in one day to find the best one...

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