202: Portrait Photography Basics

Learn prac­ti­cal tech­niques for cap­tur­ing authen­tic and flat­ter­ing moments in your subject’s life using avail­able light.

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$105 • 3‑hour course • In-per­son  Lim­it­ed to 6 stu­dents • Pro instruc­tor

Good portraits are like magnets—they attract our eyes and hold our attention.

Expo­sure Ther­a­py’s por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy course dis­cuss­es the tech­ni­cal knowl­edge and aes­thet­ic con­sid­er­a­tions nec­es­sary for pho­tograph­ing com­pelling can­did por­traits using nat­ur­al light.

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Learn portrait photography using ambient light.


What you’ll learn:

  • How to judge a good por­trait
  • Tech­ni­cal aspects: how expo­sure and meter­ing, aper­ture, shut­ter speed, focal length, depth of field, and white bal­ance affect your pic­ture.
  • Aes­thet­ic aspects: how the qual­i­ty of the light, colour, and com­po­si­tion affect your pic­ture.
  • Emo­tion­al aspects: how your subject’s mood, expe­ri­ence, and rela­tion to you affect the pic­ture.


Good por­traits are fas­ci­nat­ing; they can tell sto­ries, evoke feel­ings, and trig­ger mem­o­ries. How­ev­er, tak­ing a suc­cess­ful pic­ture is not always intu­itive for many novice pho­tog­ra­phers. Accel­er­ate your progress by learn­ing from our expe­ri­ence. 

This course dis­cuss­es the pil­lars of com­pelling por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy, name­ly the tech­ni­cal, aes­thet­ic, and emo­tive qual­i­ties. The tech­ni­cal por­tion out­lines how the basic prin­ci­ples of pho­tog­ra­phy (expo­sure, focal length, depth of field, and colour) apply to cre­ate intense por­traits. These prin­ci­ples also influ­ence the aes­thet­ic char­ac­ter­is­tics of por­traits: expo­sure inter­twines with the qual­i­ty, inten­si­ty, and direc­tion of light; focal length affects your com­po­si­tion and fram­ing; depth of field influ­ences your choice of back­ground, and so on. Sol­id tech­nique and aes­thet­ics will only take you so far in iso­la­tion. The cru­cial fea­ture of expres­sive por­traits is emo­tive. We’ll share sev­er­al meth­ods for build­ing rap­port and com­mu­ni­cat­ing with your subject(s) to pro­duce pic­tures that cap­ture authen­tic moments.

Dur­ing the prac­ti­cal por­tion of the work­shop, we’ll explore how you can apply the con­cepts learned in the pre­ced­ing half of the les­son to real-world por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy. 

Important Details

This inter­me­di­ate-lev­el pho­tog­ra­phy work­shop assumes you have a firm under­stand­ing of basic pho­tog­ra­phy. The fol­low­ing pre­req­ui­sites are rec­om­mend­ed:

101–104: Begin­ner’s Bun­dle
201: Com­po­si­tion in Pho­tog­ra­phy

Meeting Locations:

One of two loca­tions depend­ing on the time of year and weath­er.

April – Novem­ber: In front of The Roy­al Con­ser­va­to­ry of Music:

Decem­ber – March: The Allen Lam­bert Gal­le­ria inside Brook­field Place, just by the RBC Domin­ion Secu­ri­ties facade:

Accepted cameras:

  • We accept all cam­eras capa­ble of man­u­al mode.
  • We accept all brands of dig­i­tal cam­eras.
  • Con­tact us if you’re unsure about your camera’s suit­abil­i­ty for this course.

What to bring:

  • Cam­era and lens
  • Bat­tery (ful­ly charged)1If you’re par­tic­i­pat­ing in more than one work­shop, please bring either your bat­tery charg­er or a sec­ond bat­tery to ensure you can oper­ate your cam­era through­out the day.
  • Mem­o­ry card (emp­tied)
  • Cam­era man­u­al
  • Note­book and pen
  • Ques­tions and thirst for knowl­edge!

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Are you ready to start learning photography?

Join the 100s of begin­ners who’ve improved their pho­tog­ra­phy with Expo­sure Ther­a­py.

202: Por­trait Pho­tog­ra­phy Basics

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What to Wear

This out­door pho­tog­ra­phy work­shop requires weath­er-appro­pri­ate cloth­ing to stay com­fort­able and pro­tect your gear, espe­cial­ly on wet days.2Bring two or more ful­ly charged bat­ter­ies for your cam­era.

Meet­ing Point and Loca­tion

Work­shops are held out­doors and involve walk­ing. Some loca­tions may not be ful­ly acces­si­ble. In case of bad weath­er, I’ll noti­fy you of any changes to the meet­ing loca­tion.

Cancellation and refunds

Cancellations, refunds, and rescheduling

My com­plete can­cel­la­tion and refund pol­i­cy is found in the Terms of Sale. The fol­low­ing sum­ma­ry is for your con­ve­nience:

  • All sales are final, and no refunds are giv­en if you can­cel.
  • If unex­pect­ed issues occur, you can resched­ule up to 24 hours before your group pho­tog­ra­phy work­shop is sched­uled to start.