The Art in Portrait Photography | Blogger collaboration with Always Rise Blog

Well hey there!
I’m Khalipha Ntloko, writing this all the way from Cape Town, South Africa! I’m the brains behind the Always Rise Blog,an Inspiration, Lifestyle and Beauty blog that really is a journal highlighting my growth as a woman within these 3 categories. I’m only 23 years old and I believe that I have many wonderful things to do in life so my blog is a space that not only shares the aspirations I have but also invites women to be inspired so that they too, can rise up and be phenomenal in their own unique and beautiful way.
I’ve recently tapped into my ever-growing love for photography, particularly portrait photography. My aspiration is to become a sought-after [female] portrait photographer in South Africa, but I’m actually self-taught and using a camera that is rather limiting. But, much like life, I’ve learned to get better through these limitations, and I want to share a few tips that I have picked up along the way to help you take better portraits for either your own blogs or personal use.

In the beginning of my photography journey, I took to a lot of social media and Google pictures to source ideas. And whenever I found a picture I really liked, I would work hard at trying to recreate the exact same photo.
Little did I forget that I have a particular camera that can’t capture certain things. And I don’t have the same makeup products (or techniques) to recreate certain looks. And don’t get me started on a studio set up and lighting

As I got frustrated, I realised that recreating an image to the tee just doesn’t work for me. So I started going back to the drawing board and asked myself why I liked certain pictures. Was it the dark shadows and lighter highlights? Was it the super close of the skin that I loved? Was it the particular shade of black and white that was used? These were some of the questions I started asking myself which helped me create a particular kind of image I wanted for my portraits that I now think about whenever I take photographs. What is the mood that I want to give off in my portraits? The emotion that I want to capture instead of copying someone else’s photo? When it comes to portraits (or photography in general), be original. It’s the most beautiful way to stand out.

I’m sure having an automatic car is a dream because of how easy it would be to drive. I mean, a car doing about 80% of the work for you sounds like a breeze. Well, the same could be said for the camera setting ‘Auto’.
As much as the ‘Auto’ setting on your camera easily does the adjusting according to the lighting and environment for you, my advice is to rather stay away from the ‘Auto’ setting. In watching a number of YouTube tutorials and then actually practicing what I was learning, I’ve noticed that 1) capturing images on ‘Auto’ doesn’t make you any different from a smartphone camera user, and 2) there’s a big and personal power in capturing images with settings that you have taken the time to get accustomed to. It no longer becomes a case of the camera doing all the work but you’re now, in collaboration with the camera, beginning to create art.

My advice is to play around with the ‘AV’ setting. This is the ‘Aperture Priotity’ where you set the camera at a certain f-number, whilst the camera selects a shutter speed to match this f-number so that you get better exposure based on what the lighting conditions are in the environment you’re shooting in. This setting is great for landscapes, where you use a large f-number to get a bigger depth of field and crisper background. For portraits, a lower f-number creates a smaller depth of field which blurs out the background and brings more focus to your subject (hello Bokeh!)

Believe it or not, the word ‘art’ is literally in the word ‘portrait’; this is how I approach my own works of portrait photography. How can I create art in the images I want to capture of someone?
I have no PhD in Selfie Taking, like Kim Kardashian-West, but I know I want my work to be more than just a captured pose. I want to capture a mood, a real and raw emotion that selfies don’t always capture. There’s a freedom of creativity when it comes to portraits that I hope you’ll see not only in my self-portraits but in the works of other photographers.
Much like what I mentioned in my first point, be original in the images you capture. During my years of studying Psychology in my undergraduate, I learned that we could all look at a particular object at the same time, but our perspective and interpretations of that object won’t all be the same. I think the same goes for photography. 

During my ‘Photography’ Instagram Highlights, I remember showing my followers the same picture but only changed the temperature during editing – one was more warm, the other cool. I loved the warm version of the photo but I received an incredible favour for the cooler picture, with someone mentioning how much better my skin stood out. Meanwhile, the cooler tone image made my skin more red, which I didn’t like.

With that said, don’t be afraid to stick to our own artistic guns. I’m aware that people will not always love the work I put out, that there will be critiques and unsavoury opinion. But in the end, I will always produce something that I will be proud of. And that’s something I hope you’ll remember. To find the art in the photographs you capture in future. Photographers don’t get enough clout for the hard work we put in but I hope that this post will inspire you to rise up and find your own art that you’ll always be proud of. 

(Thank you so much to Khalipa for writing this. We found it truly inspiring and really helpful! As with all our collabs, you can find our post on her blog too. We wrote a post all about Makeup Revolution, which you all know we love, since it launched in South Africa only 2 days ago. Thanks again to Khalipa, and we hope you all enjoyed. For more information on portrait photography, there is a really great source here
Natasha and Emily x ) 


  1. This is a wonderful post. I always have certain issues whenever I try something new with portrait photography. But this time gonna start from the start. Thanks...

    1. Khalipa shared some amazing tips! Thanks for reading x

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