portrait photography: tips and tricks

gucio vancouver

i don’t know about you, but i’m definitely not comfortable in front of the camera. i think it’s partly the fact that i don’t have control of the outcome, and partly the fact that i can be quite self conscious. when emily (my wedding makeup artist) suggested she doll me up for portrait photos with gucio photography, i was instantly nervous. one scan of the gorgeous work displayed on their site (the engagement photos they’ve captured will give you chills), eased my mind – i trusted they understood how to create a stunning result.

gucio vancouver 1

self confidence is a funny thing. it’s very closely tied to self image and can define how you allow others to treat you, and what you feel you deserve in life. i’ve always had a very healthy self image for the most part, but we all see photos of ourselves, and at one time or another, are shocked about how we look. taking a professional portrait is a really nice way to honour who you are – the experience really opened my eyes to my connection with myself. i spend so much time taking care of other people, i simply forgot to check in with who i am… the experience of getting dolled up, feeling beautiful, and looking at the back of the cam to see that i really looked beautiful… it was a wonderful feeling and one that doesn’t happen often – it was such a treat. these photos document a special time in my life, and are something i’ll treasure!

a portrait is defined as artistic representation of a person… i very much feel like my essence is captured in these photos, and to have this documented feels a lot more special to me than i thought it would. don’t you think gifting a session is a wonderful idea, too? very unique and thoughtful.

gucio vancouver 2

there’s a certain intimacy about letting yourself relax in front of a camera. you have to just let go, let yourself be vulnerable, and trust the process. some of the most awkward feeling positions can look the prettiest in a photo, so simply let your photog guide you (for instance, i heard a lot of, “lengthen that neck”, ha!). it’s easy: if you have a great photog, there is truly nothing to worry about. their job is to make you look good. emily’s makeup skills are ridiculous. i’m a makeup artist myself, and really picky about how my makeup is done – i’ve never had anyone do a great job. emily made me look better than i ever had – she’s a beauty guru to the max.

gucio vancouver 3

with gucio, i was so surprised how they knew which positions would make me look great, and gave me direction along the way. little nuances i thought i only knew about my angles, they totally ‘got’. their post production is also impeccable – i said that i really didn’t want a lot of re-touching… cleaning up those major issues is fine, but  taking away my character is something i’m not cool with. obviously, they would have done an amazing job whether i mentioned this or not! their gastown studio is beyond – these ladies have serious style.

the pros were gracious enough to share their (really awesome) tips about how to look your best in your portraits, or any photos, for that matter:

picture perfect


(side note: those two lovelies above are anna and kasia – blown away by what they do!)

1. Drink lots of water leading up to the photo shoot to make sure your skin is looking its best.

2. Get a good amount of sleep for at least two nights leading up to the session and eat a few hours before shoot time… the most captivating portraits are all about the eyes, and you want to make sure yours are looking rested and energized.

3. Bring clothing you feel beautiful in. By all means do get advice from your photographer but also keep in mind that you want the photos to still feel like you and reflect your style. Having a few options on-hand is also helpful as some outfits may photograph better than others. It’s never a bad idea to have backups available… and really, who doesn’t enjoy playing a bit of dress up?

4. Make sure your eyebrows are well groomed. They will frame your eyes, give definition to your face, and ensure you look polished.

5. Trust your hair and makeup to a professional: makeup photographs differently than it appears in person, and even if you’re looking for a natural “no-makeup” look, a great stylist will make you look glowing and like the most gorgeous version of yourself.

6. Find a photographer whose style you love and chat with them prior to the session about what you’d love the photos to capture. Bouncing ideas around is a fun part of the process and will help ensure that you’re on the same page and have a great rapport even before you get in front of the camera.

Most importantly: remember to enjoy the experience! Indulge, set some time aside to pamper yourself before the shoot and celebrate afterwards with a night out on the town!

picture perfect 1


(side note: that’s emily above, isn’t she gorge?! the shot was taken by gucio, of course. love these pro tips she shares below)

1. Apply foundation last so that the skin appears flawless, checking for finger marks, smudges or fall out from shadow. Going over smudges with foundation or removing them with cotton swabs doesn’t always fully get rid of the mess and can show up in the photos as a light mark or shadow, so save yourself the trouble and do foundation at the end.

2. Spend time on your brows as they frame the face and can either make or break the whole look. Use a pencil to create hair-like strokes and go over top with a brow powder. Don’t fill the brows in too much at the front , start half way and only add to the front if necessary to avoid looking stern. Always finish with a brow gel, and brush upwards so that the hairs are neat and create a lift to the eye.

3. Curl your own lashes and pop on a few individual lashes on top. This will also give the eye an instant lift. Start with shorts and go longer if needed.

4. Do your makeup in front of a window, and take a few pictures with your own camera before posing for the actual head shots. On camera, you’ll see things that are uneven or need fixing that you might not have noticed just looking in the mirror. Make sure the left and right side of the face look as much symmetrical as possible. i.e the blending of eye shadow ends at the same spot or the bow of the lip are the same width etc.

5. Contour! You can create the illusion of a slimmer face, nose and even heightened cheek bones. Keep in mind that most of the time contouring and blush doesn’t show up the same as the way it looks in the mirror. Each photographers lighting is different so ask for a test shot and adjust accordingly.

Posts you might also love

  • muffles

    YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL! These are such a great collection of photos (so jeals!) All my “attempts” always look like I got them done at Sears portrait studio lol! I’m definitely going to give this “gift” to myself! Thanks for the tips and being so honest, it really made me feel that I’m not alone in those.

    • why, thanks so much! defo a step up from sears, do it!!! x

  • Drew Elizabeth

    Great post lady! You look gorgeous and I definitely think that the brows are the most important part!

    • thanks, drew! great brows make the face, indeed! xo

  • Tony Rio

    Photo editing is extremely important, there are models that get really upset when they see photos they aren’t happy with and guess who they blame? The editors and photographer lol. Funniest thing is when the model is arguing with the photographer while the photographer says they don’t remember the shoot! Haha 🙂

  • Oh I love how your photos turned out. And it’s so true, working from home, I often forget to take the time to pamper + take time to feel beautiful. But slowly, I’m learning!! Love your tips too… I’ve always been a big fan of doing my make-up with tons of natural light hitting my face! Happiest Friday, lovey!! xoxo

    • agreed, veronika! thanks for the thoughtful comment, xo

  • Girl you look absolutely amazing wow!!!!