Best advice for beginner portrait photographers: Learning from 5+ years of portraits

Best advise for beginner portrait photographers

I remember looking around the web for the best advice for beginner portrait photographers when I first started. There are literally thousands of tips for the best camera gear, lighting equipment, techniques, etc. It can be hard to wrap your head around everything and it can make you want to quit before you even get started to be honest.

Before you fall into this trap, let me give you the best advise for beginner portrait photographers that I wish I came across when I got started. These are simple tip to remember and keep you focused on your portrait photography work.

Best advice for beginner portrait photographers

If I had a chance to start all over again, I would want to know these few things from day one. Here is the best advice I would give to new portrait photographers who are just starting to build their portfolios.

Sony 24-70mm f2.8 Portraits Iana sitting down
Portrait Shoot with Iana | Off Camera Flash

1. Everyone has a camera, but your creativity will help you stand out

Cameras are cheaper now than they were around 5-10 years ago, and technology has become more advanced in smaller packages. Millions of people are carrying smartphones with advanced cameras built into them. Everybody has a camera, but not everyone is a photographer. Your ability to frame a subject and get creative with post-production will always help you stand apart from the rest.

Don’t worry about the next photographer with a bigger and more expensive camera. Principles of photography are the same for everyone. It’s how you practice these principles that will make you more of a professional.

Do your research and learn as much as you can about the technical aspects of lighting and photography. This will make you a better creative professional and show others that you are fully invested in learning your craft.

best advise for beginner photographers no need for most expensive gear

2. You don’t always have to buy the newest and most expensive gear

Speaking of bigger and better cameras. It seems like every few months, there is a new bigger and more expensive camera on the market. Yes, it is nice to have, but upgrading constantly can be an expensive habit. G.A.S is real. Gear acquisition syndrome is a real thing and can get expensive really fast so don’t fall into this trap of wanting to constantly upgrade.

I shot with the same Sony a7 camera for 2 years before I upgraded. I even upgraded to an older version and not the newest. The best advice I was given when I started was to invest in good lenses. Camera bodies will be changing all the time, but good glass will always be a great investment.

Many people never outgrew their original camera, but always feel the need to upgrade. If your budget allows it, that’s great. If you’re like me and started with a limited budget, learn new photography skills, and not new cameras. Invest in yourself for better return on investments.

Behind the scenes portrait photography shoot
Portrait shoot with Mina | Off camera flash

3. Keep shooting, and don’t give up

There were so many times I wanted to quit shooting. I felt like there were so many other people out there younger, and more creative than I was. I constantly searched social media for tips on how to shoot and learning what my favorite photographers were using. This really made me question my work and why I was shooting. After 2 years of shooting, the best thing I did was not quitting. I kept shooting, studying and kept getting better.

4. Social media can be good and bad

Social media is a double-edged sword in my opinion. It can help you learn and grow but can also lead to discouraging you when your numbers and stats are not matching other people’s profiles.

Realize numbers are just one aspect of social media that we will never truly understand. Don’t get caught up in trying to be Instagram famous. Work on your photography and work to learn more about your craft. | Sony portraits
My personal portfolio website

5. The key to becoming a professional is to start presenting yourself like one

Shooting great photos is a sure-fire way to become a professional, but it is not the only way. How you communicate with potential clients plays a big part in how you are perceived. Your brand also plays a huge role in how people see your business so look at investing in good branding and other small business collateral.

Take the time and make sure you’re presenting yourself in the best light possible. (no pun intended) Another idea is to polish those business cards, and start a simple website or social media portfolio to showcase your best work. This will go a long way in helping you become a pro or start doing more TFP portrait sessions. website
Build your portfolio and keep updating it

6. Build a portfolio from the start

When you’re just starting out, you will not have much in the ways of content. That’s ok. We all start from zero. Work to do collaborations and more portrait shoots, and start picking out your best work.

This work can always be replaced with newer works and you will never really be done with your portfolio. The most important thing is to start shooting and keep shooting so you’re constantly getting better.

7. Stop comparing yourself to others

Some of the best advise for beginner portrait photographers is stop comparing yourself to others. Let me say this louder for everyone to hear. When you are just starting in portrait photography, you will almost certainly want to compare your work to other photographers. You will need to break this habit really quick if you want to make progress as a portrait photographer.

We all start at the same level and work our way up. We all learn at different speeds and this is why you will not get very far if you are constantly comparing your work to others. You don’t know their background or how often they shoot. 

Many times you won’t know how long they’ve been shooting. The goal is to get better at your craft and not try to compete with every single photographer you see doing well on social media.

Conclusion – Just keep making progress

Like any creative, you will find yourself learning with all new projects. Don’t get discouraged at the popularity of people online, as much of this is fake and very trivial. Learn new skills beyond the camera as you keep moving and learning. The best advise for beginner photographers is don’t give up. Best wishes and happy shooting!

Author - Jason The Creative
My goal is not to be best portrait photographer. It’s to enjoy the journey and have some fun learning. Welcome to my photography blog on portraits, Sony gear and more.

If your interested, check out my portfolio at I hope you learn something and leave being inspired to grab your camera and go out and shoot.

*Affiliate Disclaimer - I am a proud partner of the various affiliate programs including the Affiliate Program. When you click on my links and make a purchase, a small part goes to helping maintain and grow this website. It is very much appreciated and it does not cost you a thing. Thank you!

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