Workshop 202: Portrait Photography

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

Good por­traits are like mag­nets to our eyes—they attract and hold our atten­tion. This work­shop dis­cuss­es the essen­tial tech­ni­cal knowl­edge and aes­thet­ic con­sid­er­a­tions nec­es­sary for pho­tograph­ing com­pelling portraits.

$84 • 3‑hour work­shop • Lim­it­ed to 5 stu­dents • Pro instructor


This 3‑hour portrait photography workshop presents the following:

  • A brief his­to­ry of por­trait photography
  • 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.
  • Emo­tive aspects: how your sub­jects mood, expe­ri­ence, and rela­tion to you affect the picture.

Recommended prerequisites

Work­shop 200: Review the Basics
Work­shop 201: Com­po­si­tion in Photography

This inter­me­di­ate-lev­el pho­tog­ra­phy work­shop assumes you have a firm under­stand­ing of basic photography.


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

This work­shop dis­cuss­es the pil­lars of effec­tive 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 strong 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. Tak­en in iso­la­tion, sol­id tech­nique and aes­thet­ics will only take you so far. 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

Accepted cameras:

  • All brands of dig­i­tal cam­eras are accept­ed for this workshop
  • This course is designed for DSLR and mir­ror­less inter­change­able lens cam­eras, and enthu­si­ast com­pact cameras.
  • Con­tact us if you’re unsure about your camera’s suit­abil­i­ty for this workshop.

What to bring:

  • Cam­era
  • Lens (we high­ly rec­om­mend bring­ing a nor­mal or long focus lens, the focal lengths tra­di­tion­al­ly used in for por­trait photography)
  • 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

What to wear

Most of our pho­tog­ra­phy work­shops fea­ture out­door exer­cis­es to apply the the­o­ret­i­cal con­cepts into prac­tice. Mon­i­tor the weath­er fore­cast and ensure you dress appro­pri­ate­ly for the conditions—especially on cold days.2Please note that the lithi­um bat­ter­ies pow­er­ing your cam­era may exhib­it dimin­ished pow­er out­put in cold con­di­tions. When sub­ze­ro air tem­per­a­tures are fore­cast for the day of your work­shop, we rec­om­mend bring­ing two or more cam­era batteries.

Meeting/workshop location

Our class­room-free work­shops take place out­doors, involve walk­ing and fea­ture loca­tions that may not be ful­ly acces­si­ble. Cur­rent­ly, we meet in front of The Roy­al Con­ser­va­to­ry of Music (273 Bloor St W, Toron­to, ON M5S 1W2).

We reserve the right to change the meet­ing loca­tion and will noti­fy you at least 48 hours in advance of such changes. A mod­i­fied meet­ing loca­tion will always be with­in 500m of a TTC sub­way station.

Cancellation and refunds 

Satisfaction guarantee

We want to ensure that you ful­ly under­stand the mate­ri­als cov­ered in our pho­tog­ra­phy cours­es. If you aren’t com­plete­ly sat­is­fied with your learn­ing expe­ri­ence, please let your instruc­tor know imme­di­ate­ly after your work­shop con­cludes. We’re more than hap­py to address any points of con­fu­sion on the spot or to offer you the oppor­tu­ni­ty to repeat the same work­shop on a future date (pend­ing availability).


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

  • We accept can­cel­la­tions for a full refund up to four (4) weeks in advance of your ini­tial­ly-sched­uled course.
  • We accept sched­ule mod­i­fi­ca­tions up to sev­en (7) days in advance of your ini­tial­ly-sched­uled course.