Directing People for Portrait Photography

A course by Emilia Brandão
Portrait Photographer. Madrid, Spain.
On Domestika since 05/23/2020
, Portrait Photographer

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

  • 97% Positive reviews (73)
  • 1568 students
  • Audio: English
  • English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian
Directing People for Portrait Photography

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

  • 97% Positive reviews (73)
  • 1568 students
  • Online and at your own pace
  • Audio: English
  • Level: Beginner
  • 14 Lessons (1h 52m)
  • Available from the app
  • English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian
  • 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.

About this 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 it for?

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

What you need

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.


1568 Students
73 Reviews
97% Positive ratings
  • More reviews

Emilia Brandão

A course by Emilia Brandão

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

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Domestika's courses are online classes that provide you with the tools and skills you need for completing a specific final 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 instructor and other users, thus creating a dynamic course community.

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Directing People for Portrait Photography. A Photography, and Video course by Emilia Brandão

Directing People for Portrait Photography

A course by Emilia Brandão
Portrait Photographer. Madrid, Spain.
On Domestika since 05/23/2020
  • 97% Positive reviews (73)
  • 1568 students