Portrait photography

Tips for Aesthetic Portrait Photography with Brandon Woelfel

I am a freelance photographer best known for my specific aesthetic throughout my portraits. I often incorporate brightly colored hues and neon lighting which gives a result that is uniquely my own. But, in this article, I will share tips for portrait photography that you can use in any aesthetic.

Photo by Brandon Woelfel

Reach new people

One of my favorite ways to get out of a creative slump is to reach new people photograph. Photography is such a collaborative art form and it’s not just about the photographer. Working with dancers, models and actors has brought my images to a whole new light. When you contact a model or an agency, be direct about what you are looking for. Do you have a request for a test shoot, a commercial shoot or an editorial shoot? Do you have a budget that you can afford or would this shoot just serve to establish your two wallets? The more detailed you are in this initial stage of the outreach process, the more likely you are to receive a “yes.”

Photo by Brandon Woelfel

Experiment with concepts and poses

Once you’ve locked in a template, you’ll want to start thinking about concepts and poses. Be experimental. I always let my subject know that they can be 100% comfortable trying something out of the norm. I found that breaking down that wall helps the end result. If the subject looks awkward, chances are the photos look awkward too. At first, I saved images that had poses that I wanted to recreate. This allowed me to reference them later during filming.

Photo by Brandon Woelfel

Be intentional with your light

Lighting also has a huge impact on your final photos. Be intentional with your light and how he plays with the model. If you’re shooting in natural light, pay attention to what time you’re going to shoot. Is it noon when the sun is a little higher and harsher? Or is it after sunset when the light is softer but a bit darker? All of these factors will not only affect how your model looks, but also what settings you need to use to counter it. A huge role for you as a photographer is to be aware of these elements and communicate how you intend to correct them.

Are you stuck? Check How to take outdoor portraits with only one light.

Photo by Brandon Woelfel

Know your camera well

The best way to circumvent these types of interference is to learn the ins and outs of your camera. What file format are you running in? I run all my photo shoots in RAW. This way I capture all of my footage in an unprocessed way that has more color data and information that I can play with in the edit. Otherwise, you risk blowing out the highlights and shooting in an unpleasant and hard-to-correct white balance. RAW images are ideal for most situations, but you need to be sure to set yourself up for success. These files are quite large and detailed, and come at a price. I always bring extra memory cards and invest in external hard drives to store them properly.

Photo by Brandon Woelfel

When I go to edit my RAW files, I use Adobe Camera RAW. This turns my RAW file into a more flexible file type like JPEG, TIFF, or PSD. It makes it easier for me to edit, preview, or share my work. I can tweak key settings like temperature, exposure, hue, and saturation with hundreds of different editing options. By using this method of post-production, I corrected photos that would normally not be recoverable.

Photo by Brandon Woelfel

Think about your previous work

Editing and sharing my work on social media has become an important part of my personal workflow and how I connect with my clients. Although I have always valued a certain type of consistency when creating, reflection on previous pieces is even more important to me. It’s easy to get caught up in creating out of habit rather than intention. As traditional artists do, I always recommend taking a step back from your work to revisit it at another time.

Now that you know the tricks of portrait photography… Are you looking for the right equipment for your camera bag? Check What’s in my Bag: Photographer Brandon Woelfel.

You can see more of my work in AdoramaTV’s new docuseries, THE MASTERS.

Brandon Wolfel


Brandon Woelfel is a freelance photographer based in New York. Best known for his Instagram content, Brandon has a specific aesthetic throughout his work that can be identified anywhere. It often incorporates brightly colored hues and neon lighting that give a result all its own. You can find his work on Instagram, Twitter and Youtube @brandonwoelfel or you can view his portfolio online at brandonwoelfel.com.