10 common portrait photography cliches and how to avoid them

6 stellar self-portrait ideas: shoot your reflection

10 common portrait photography cliches and how to avoid them

5. Use an 85mm lens

An effective focal length of around 85mm is traditionally seen as ideal for shooting portraits. For a start it allows a comfortable working distance, enabling you to take head and shoulder shots without crowding your subject.

It also avoids the distortion that come as a result of the fact that wide angle lenses make near subjects look much larger than slightly more distant ones.

However, sometimes you my want to take a wider view and include a bit more of the surroundings. Provided you don’t go in really close, your subject won’t be distorted – although of course this can be a great way of creating a funky shot.

6. Sitting curled on a rug

Many portrait photography clichés are created by the pose or the props – this one combines both. Fur rugs have often found favour in glamour portraits, but that hasn’t prevented their use from spilling out into more mainstream photography.

The message is meant to be ‘warm and inviting’, but today it’s more likely to be used with irony.


Best camera focus techniques: 10 surefire ways to get sharp photos
17 posing tips and in-camera slimming tricks for shooting curvy models
Getting sharp images: every photo technique you need to know starting out
54 Portrait Ideas: free downloadable posing guide