Portrait photography is a genre that captures the essence of a person, their personality, and their story. Every portrait photographer knows that capturing a great portrait is not just about having the right camera or lens, it's about composition.

Composition is the art of arranging elements in a photograph to create a visually compelling image. It is how the photographer places the subject in the frame, chooses the background, and uses lighting to create a specific mood or feeling. In portrait photography, composition plays a critical role in creating a powerful and impactful image.

Here are some tips for using composition I use to create stunning portraits: 

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a fundamental principle of composition that divides the frame into thirds both horizontally and vertically. By placing the subject at the intersection of these lines, the photographer can create a more dynamic and visually interesting image. This technique helps to avoid placing the subject directly in the center of the frame, which can create a static and uninteresting image.


The background in a portrait photograph is just as important as the subject. A cluttered or distracting background can take away from the subject and make the image less impactful. The photographer should choose a background that complements the subject and adds to the story or mood of the image. A simple, uncluttered background can make the subject stand out and create a more powerful image.


Lighting is a crucial element in portrait photography. The photographer must consider the direction, quality, and intensity of light to create the desired mood and feeling. Soft, diffused light can create a gentle and flattering image, while harsh light can create drama and intensity. The photographer can also use light to highlight or hide certain features of the subject, creating a more flattering image.


Framing is the technique of using objects in the foreground to frame the subject. This technique can create a sense of depth and add interest to the image. The photographer can use natural elements such as trees or archways to frame the subject or even use hands or other body parts to create a more intimate image.


Perspective is the angle from which the photograph is taken. Changing the perspective can create a more dynamic and interesting image. Photographers can shoot from above, below, or at eye level to create different perspectives and moods. Shooting from below can create a sense of power, while shooting from above can create a sense of vulnerability.

In conclusion, composition is a critical element in portrait photography. By using the rule of thirds, choosing the right background, lighting, framing, and perspective, photographers can create stunning and impactful images that capture the essence of the subject. With practice and experimentation, photographers can develop their own unique style and create images that tell a powerful story.