Back to Basics: A Beginner’s Guide to Capturing ‘Moody’ Portraits

Tutorial

Rachel and Daniel of Mango Street—one of the most popular photography channels on YouTube—have put together a great, straight-to-the-point guide to capturing that “moody” style of portrait that’s become a popular counter-point to the “dreamy” overexposed look that often dominates lifestyle imagery.

This short tutorial is targeted at beginners, offering basic tips on the kind of exposure, composition, posing, and lighting you want to try and replicate to capture shots like this—expert lifestyle photographers need not apply. That said, for those of you just starting out, who are looking for some basic tips, behind-the-scenes footage, and plenty of sample photos, Rachel and Daniel keep things pretty concise and entertaining, as usual.

The basic tips are as follows:

  • Stick to one, directional natural light source
  • Use a dark backdrop if you can help it
  • Place your subject close to the light source
  • Position your subject towards the light. For example: turn your subject’s face towards the light (i.e. a window)
  • Expose for the highlights, then drop your exposure another stop or so
  • Shoot wide-open for shallow depth of field

Check out the full video up top to see each tip in action alongside a bunch of sample photos and BTS footage, and then head over to the Mango Street YouTube channel for more tips and tutorial videos like this one.

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