Directing People for Portrait Photography

A course by Emilia Brandão
Portrait Photographer. Madrid, Spain.
Joined May 2020
, Portrait Photographer

Capture unforgettable images and experiences by understanding how to engage with individuals and their emotions

  • 97% positive reviews (280)
  • 5667 students
  • Audio: English
  • English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch

Capture unforgettable images and experiences by understanding how to engage with individuals and their emotions

  • 97% positive reviews (280)
  • 5667 students
  • 14 lessons (1h 52m)
  • 11 additional resources (4 files)
  • Online and at your own pace
  • Available on the app
  • Audio: English
  • English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch
  • Level: Beginner
  • Unlimited access forever

Captivating portraits are made by understanding human emotions. By being aware of a person’s vulnerabilities and inhibitions, photographer Emilia Brandão is able to connect with her subjects on a deeper level, creating a relaxed atmosphere and gaining the trust of some of the world’s most accomplished athletes, celebrities, and business leaders.

In this course, Emilia shows you how to connect with your subject in order to create authentic portraits that also fulfill your artistic vision. Learn how to direct your subject effectively by using empathy, encouragement, and constructive feedback to create better, more genuine images.

What will you learn in this online course?

Course table of contents

  • U1
    U1. Introduction
  • U2
    U2. Connecting with People and Preparing for a Portrait Photoshoot
  • U3
    U3. Photoshoot (All Shot in Location)
  • U4
    U4. Post Production
  • FP
    FP Final project
View details

Start your course by getting to know Emilia and learn about her journey into photography. Get to know her influences and how she looks to them to inspire her work.

See how Emilia prepares for a photoshoot. Learn how to visually organize your ideas using a moodboard so you can take stock of the equipment, lighting, wardrobe, location, and props you’ll be needing.

Then, to help guide your sitter throughout the shoot, create a moodboard that’s strictly focused on poses, facial expressions, and body language. Most importantly, discover the importance of creating a relaxing environment and gaining trust with your subject so you can achieve portraits that are both authentic and unique.

Learn how to direct your sitter using the reference material prepared in the previous unit. Understand the importance of connecting with your subject by changing roles, showing vulnerability, and giving encouragement. See how you can achieve better results by physically illustrating your ideas and making your subject part of the creative process.

To wrap things up, take things into post-production using Adobe Bridge. Learn how Emilia uses ratings to make her final selection before retouching individual images with Photoshop and Camera Raw. Get some final tips on adjusting light, contrast, and color. Then prepare your high-resolution portraits to be sent to your client.

What is this course's project?

Plan, shoot, and edit three unique portraits of a challenging subject using the same mood, scene, and lighting. Final images must be selected together with your subject to ensure they feel represented authentically.

Projects by course students

Who is this online course for?

Photographers who are looking to genuinely connect with their subjects and improve their communication skills to create better, more authentic portraits.

Requirements and materials

You need a digital camera with a lens ranging from 55mm to 85mm. You also need a computer with Adobe Bridge, Photoshop, and Camera Raw.


5667 Students
280 Reviews
97% Positive ratings

Emilia Brandão

A course by Emilia Brandão

Teacher Plus
Portrait Photographer

Emilia Brandão is a professional portrait photographer based in Madrid. From a young age, Emilia has relied on her camera to connect with people, build relationships, and travel the world.

Originally from São Paulo, Emilia studied Cinema and Photography before becoming a freelance contributor for publications like Vogue, GQ, Elle, and Glamour. She has photographed some of the world’s top business leaders, athletes, and celebrities, including Philippe Starck, Kaká, Yoko Ono, Antonio Banderas, and more. In 2020, she was named an official LEICA ambassador.


  • U1


    • About Me
    • Influences
    • What We Will Do in the Course?
  • U2

    Connecting with People and Preparing for a Portrait Photoshoot

    • Research, Briefing and Mood Board
    • Location
    • Equipment, Light, and Your Plan B
    • Making a Body Language, Facial Expressions and Poses Board
    • Understanding Emotions
  • U3

    Photoshoot (All Shot in Location)

    • Before the Shoot
    • Placing the Sitter on the Set
    • Shooting
  • U4

    Post Production

    • Transferring and Editing
    • Image Retouch
    • Delivery and Professional Tips
  • FP

    Final project

    • Directing People for Portrait Photography

What to expect from a Domestika course

  • Learn at your own pace

    Enjoy learning from home without a set schedule and with an easy-to-follow method. You set your own pace.

  • Learn from the best professionals

    Learn valuable methods and techniques explained by top experts in the creative sector.

  • Meet expert teachers

    Each expert teaches what they do best, with clear guidelines, true passion, and professional insight in every lesson.

  • Certificates

    If you're a Plus or PRO member, get a custom certificate signed by your teacher for every course. Share it on your portfolio, social media, or wherever you like.

  • Get front-row seats

    Videos of the highest quality, so you don't miss a single detail. With unlimited access, you can watch them as many times as you need to perfect your technique.

  • Share knowledge and ideas

    Ask questions, request feedback, or offer solutions. Share your learning experience with other students in the community who are as passionate about creativity as you are.

  • Connect with a global creative community

    The community is home to millions of people from around the world who are curious and passionate about exploring and expressing their creativity.

  • Watch professionally produced courses

    Domestika curates its teacher roster and produces every course in-house to ensure a high-quality online learning experience.


Domestika's courses are online classes that provide you with the tools and skills you need to complete a specific project. Every step of the project combines video lessons with complementary instructional material, so you can learn by doing. Domestika's courses also allow you to share your own projects with the teacher and with other students, creating a dynamic course community.

All courses are 100% online, so once they're published, courses start and finish whenever you want. You set the pace of the class. You can go back to review what interests you most and skip what you already know, ask questions, answer questions, share your projects, and more.

The courses are divided into different units. Each one includes lessons, informational text, tasks, and practice exercises to help you carry out your project step by step, with additional complementary resources and downloads. You'll also have access to an exclusive forum where you can interact with the teacher and with other students, as well as share your work and your course project, creating a community around the course.

You can redeem the course you received by accessing the redeeming page and entering your gift code.

If you're a Plus or PRO member, when you complete a course you'll instantly get your personalized certificate. You can see all your certificates in the Certificates section of your profile. You can download your certificates as PDFs and share the link online. Learn more about certificates
Directing People for Portrait Photography. Photography, and Video course by Emilia Brandão

Directing People for Portrait Photography

A course by Emilia Brandão
Portrait Photographer. Madrid, Spain.
Joined May 2020
  • 97% positive reviews (280)
  • 5667 students