3 Best Ideas For Night Portrait Photography

Have you ever seen those sick portrait photos on Instagram ? They’re killing it ! But you know what ? You can do that too. In this tutorial, I’m going to show you the 3 best ideas that will help you improve your night portrait photography !



Why I love night portrait ?

When it comes to portrait photography, it’s all about the lighting and creativity. It’s definitely not like shooting landscape that you can simply just press the shutter button and snap a photo. There are so many things we need to learn and explore in portrait photography, but today we’re going to focus on the “night portrait” The reason why I love night portrait so much is because I am able to shoot with “slow shutter” that can create a very unique style for my portrait shots.

Most people shoot with wide aperture such as f/2.8, f/1.8 to make the background out-of-focus, which will help to separate model from the background. But it’s just the basic way to create a portrait shot. In the next few minutes, I’m going to reveal the three BEST ideas that will help you get more creative with your night portrait photography ! Get excited !




Best lenses for night portrait

The first thing you need to do is to pick the right lens for your portrait shots. The lens you use is a key factor in achieving the result you desire. Often times we’d want to use a lens that has “longer focal length and the maximum aperture of f/1.8” because you can easily get that nicely out-of-focus background, which will emphasize your subject.

So what is the best portrait lens ? The Canon/Nikon 50mm f/1.8 is usually considered the best and cheapest prime lens you can get for your portrait photography. However, the classic 50mm focal length might still be a bit wider if you’re currently shooting on a full frame camera. So I would recommend 85mm f/1.8, which is a better lens for getting out-of-focus background.

As you can see, the longer focal length will produce more shallow depth of field. Both of them have the maximum aperture of f/1.8, which allow us to get more light when shooting night portrait. This is the reason why I highly recommend those two lenses.

Best lenses for night portrait :




1. Use wide aperture

Shooting with the widest aperture is the best and most common way to create a beautiful shadow depth of field for your background. Another benefit of wide aperture is that you’re able to get more light for your night portrait. The f/1.4 aperture lets in eight times more light as a standard f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens. So it’s really necessary to have a prime lens.

I would highly recommend shooting at a place where some ambient lights are in the background. This allows you to balance different colors because the colors of lampposts are usually too warm.

When you’re shooting with a really shadow depth of field like f/2, f/1.8 or even wider, you want to keep as still as possible because any shift of backwards or forwards could put you out of focus. Please keep it in mind !

Tips: The longer the focal length, the more shadow depth-of-field will be. That’s why portrait photographers love to use the Canon 85mm f/1.8 prime lens


Did you see that ? Those lights are nicely out of focus, which give us a very cool city-style.




2. Use slower shutter speed

Do you remember how shutter affects our photos ? The shutter controls the brightness of images. It’s also responsible for controlling the amount of blur in the footage. So the longer the shutter is open, the longer the camera records, which will easily produce motion blur.

Shutter speed – 0.5sec   Aperture – f/3.5   ISO – 200


Shutter speed – 0.2sec   Aperture – f/4.0   ISO – 200

We can use this technique to separate separate your subject(model) from the background. It can be extremely useful when you’re in a place where some crowds, night traffic are in the background. Please make sure that your model stay still when you’re shooting in slow shutter speed. It’s also necessary to have a tripod if you can’t hold your camera steadily.




3. Use blue tone

Sometimes, it’s not about how you shoot your photos, it’s about how you “edit” them. The reason why we’d want to use blue tone for our photos is because the color temperature of our night portrait shots are always too warm. Why did this happen ? It’s because the lighting you get from street lights are usually very warm like this :


But don’t worry ! We can adjust the color temperature in photo editing software such as “Lightroom” Lightroom is a strong software that can make your photos look much more stunning than ever ! In the next few seconds, I’m going to show you how I use blue tone for my night portrait shots.

The first thing I would do is to bring down the temperature( -5 ~ -25 ) and then bring the tint up a little bit. For the skin tone section, I will reduce the saturation of color red, orange, yellow and bring up the luminance of them. These are the most basic things to do when editing a night portrait photo. Honestly, there are millions of ways out there you can color grade your photos, but often times we will still use blue tone for our night portrait !

Luckily, I got a preset pack for you ! This preset pack can make your night portrait photos look a lot more stunning and professional just like other famous photographer’s.









That’s it !

That is it ! It’s just very simple and easy, isn’t it ?  Though your portrait shots might not be as perfect as others, it just takes some practices and experiments. I believe that you’ll soon find your own portrait style ! I hope you learn something from this little tutorial. These are the three best and coolest techniques you can use for your night portrait photography ! If you find this article helpful, then don’t forget to share with your friends. 🙂


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