I'm Joe. I teach photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York. These are a few good portrait photography tips.
One. Cameras like this, they kind of want to force your hands into holding them horizontally. People aren't horizontal, they're vertical. Don't be afraid to turn the camera sideways and take vertical pictures. That's the direction that people actually are.
If you're photographing outside, put your subject in the shade or photograph them on an overcast day. Even the shade created by the side of a house or something is better than direct sunlight. Direct sunlight makes people squint. It creates big shadows on their face.
Get a little bit above their eye line. Nobody thanks you for photographing them from underneath their chin. You get 10 or 20 or 30 degrees above their eye line, everybody looks a little bit better.
Bring your chin up just a little bit, Syd. Turn your head a little bit to the right.
Have them move through a variety of poses.
Roll your left shoulder back a little bit, Syd. That's great. Turn your head a little bit to the right. Don't let that smile fade out. There you go.
Keep your background fuzzy and indistinct. Almost anything will work as a background if you keep it out of focus.
And those are a few good tips for taking better portraits.