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66 tips cards to cut out to help you learn posing & lighting in portrait photography

66 tips cards for posing and lighting in portrait photography
(Image credit: Digital Camera World)
Portrait photography shopping list

Here's some kit to take your home portrait photography to the next level.

Portrait lens: This will give you the perfect perspective for faces and beautifully defocused backgrounds
Backdrops: Not essential, but extremely useful for pretending your living room is a studio
Lighting kit: A two light kit is all you need to make professional looking portraits
Light modifiers: Perfect for 'shaping' the light for specific effects
Reflector: If you get nothing else, get a reflector. They are SO useful

Digital Camera magazine has been putting pop-out tips cards on its covers for dozens of issues (find out how to subscribe below), so we thought why not put our favorites online? 

This time our subject is portrait photography tips, with detailed advice on every aspect, from lighting, to posing, to what your models should do with their hands! Each card has a sample image and simple instructions that show you how to try out these techniques.

Our tips cards have been sized specially for easy on-screen viewing, and not just on a desktop computer but on the smaller screen of a tablet or a smartphone. And if you can't easily read the text on your phone, just turn it sideways.

See also: 72 tips cards for photographers

For those who prefer paper to pixels, see our diagram below. You can download any of these cards, print them out, trim them and fold them. 

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

Need a printer? Try these:

The best all-in-one printer for home working
The best photo printer right now
The best portable printer for photos

Download and print

1. Click the gadget in the top right corner of each tips card. This will open up a full-size version in a new browser window.

2. Right-click to download the tips card (it will save as a regular JPEG image).

3. Open it up in your photo editor and print it. We've already sized these cards to the correct dimensions, but if they do come out the wrong size for any reason, we suggest resizing them to a height of 9cm.

4. It's up to you what paper you print on and what your printer supports. Regular paper is a bit thin, but heavyweight paper or photo paper would be a good choice.

5. You don't have to print one card at a time. Why not combine the ones you want in your photo editor and print several at a time?

**If you're using a smartphone, tap and hold the card to save or download a screen sized version on your device**

Full length poses

How do you get your subjects to stand for full length portraits? If they're used to modelling they'll have some ideas already, but if they're new, here are some poses to get you started.

(Image credit: Digital Camera world)

(Image credit: Digital Camera world)

(Image credit: Digital Camera world)

Digital Camera is the definitive guide to digital photography. Every issue comes packed with expert advice, in-depth tutorials, news, interviews, tests of all the latest gear, free gifts and inspirational images. Digital Camera has the sole aim of helping you become a better photographer. 

Special digital edition sale - Five issue for $5/£5/€5View Deal

(Image credit: Digital Camera world)

(Image credit: Digital Camera world)

(Image credit: Digital Camera world)

Three quarter view

In three quarter view you shoot your subject from the knees up. Here are some classic poses to get the session going and produce some interesting shapes along the way.

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

Posing toddlers

Toddlers won't wait for you to make your mind up, so make sure you've got some ideas ready, and your camera set to continuous shooting mode!

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

Camera height

Don't get lazy and shoot everything at your own eye level. Your subject will look very different when photographed from different heights.

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

Heads and arms

Even when you're right in close, your subject still needs to know what they're meant to do with their arms. Here are some ideas for making heads and arms look natural.

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

Posing eyes

We all know eyes are important in portraits, but where is your model meant to look? Here are some tips on eyes and how to create interest and variety.

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

Posing hands

Hands are actually incredibly difficult to get right in portraits. They are an important part of the composition and they have to look natural and 'right'.

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

Posing mouths

You can't just say 'smile please'! Well you can, but you'll get the same shot every time. Here are some better ideas.

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

Posing outdoors

If you've got a garden, use it! You don't need exotic, lavish backdrops. If you use a longer focal length lens and get in close, you can make a shot in just about any location.

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

Pro portraits

Fancy recreating the luxury lifestyle look you see in glossy magazines? Here are some ideas for achieving the 'editorial' look.

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

One light

Now for some lighting tips. You only have one light? Not a problem – here's what you can do with it.

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

Headshots

Headshots are a classic portrait setup, and there's no better way to experiment than with a studio lighting setup. But where do you even start?

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

Light modifiers

Light isn't just light. The direction of the light is crucial, of course, but so is the quality of the light... which is why there are so many light modifiers you can use for portrait photography.

Best studio photography lighting kits
Best backdrops for photography
Best reflectors for photography

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

Digital Camera magazine

These tips cards originally appeared in Digital Camera Magazine, the monthly newsstand magazine for all photographers. Why not subscribe to a print edition, and have the magazine delivered direct to your door every month?

Alternatively, we have a number of different digital options available, including:

• Apple app (for iPad or iPhone)
• Zinio app (multi-platform app for desktop or smartphone)
• PocketMags (multi-platform app ideal for Android devices)
• Readly (all-you-can-eat digital magazine subscription service)

If you wanted a printed version of any of our most recent issues we have a selection of back issues to choose from in our online store.

Digital Camera is the definitive guide to digital photography. Every issue comes packed with expert advice, in-depth tutorials, news, interviews, tests of all the latest gear, free gifts and inspirational images. Digital Camera has the sole aim of helping you become a better photographer. 

Special digital edition sale - Five issue for $5/£5/€5View Deal