Best Accessories for Portrait Photography | 2024

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Here, we’re taking a look at the best accessories for portrait photography – which is all about controlling your light. When you’re in the business of creating flattering, attractive images of people, you need to be able to produce smooth, even lighting that falls evenly across your subject without creating harsh shadows or an unflattering shine.

This isn’t the only concern when it comes to portrait photography — but it’s a pretty big one, and it’s one you can address with just a few inexpensive accessories. We’ve put together this list with our experts’ top recommendations for the accessories that will make a real, tangible difference to your portraits, some of which can be had for as little as £15.

Building your portrait setup from the ground up? Check out our guides to the best cameras for portraits, and the best lenses for portraits

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Our top picks

Godox V860III Flashgun for Sony

£190.00 View

If you’re looking to move on from relying solely on natural light then a flashgun is truly a must-buy. Being able to dial in exactly the light level you need, and control it to provide smooth, even illumination across your subject’s face — this is essential for portrait photography.

There are absolutely loads of fantastic flashguns out there; indeed, most camera manufacturers produce and sell their own branded ones. However, it’s also worth looking at third-party options, particularly if you can see yourself using multiple systems, or just want a great deal. We’d recommend the Godox V860III Flashgun, available for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, Pentax, Olympus / OM System and Panasonic. It comes with useful features like a modelling light for previewing your images, and fast 1.5-second recycling times.

Godox Parabolic Softbox 120cm

£105.00 View

A softbox is a tried and tested means of controlling the output of your flash, softening the light to eliminate harsh shadows and provide a pleasing, overall look. Softboxes come in many different sizes and shapes, many of which can be useful for portraiture. For getting started, consider the Godox Parabolic Sofbox, a sixteen-sided light-shaper that’s ideal for creating attractive catchlights in your subject’s eyes. This particular softbox features 16 even sides offering soft, crisp, and dramatic effects to your subject. It is supplied with inner and outer diffusers that soften the light even further to create vivid effects for photography and videography.

Calumet 56cm Collapsible Reflector - Gold-Silver / White

£15.00 View

Reflectors are another essential tool for portrait photographers. Not only can you place them opposite your main light source to create a nice bounce effect and fill in harsh shadows, you can also place them closer to your subject to soften smaller shadows or sharp facial features.

Reflectors can also be extremely affordable, making them a cost-effective way to augment your setup. The Calumet 56cm Collapsible Reflector, for instance, provides multiple colour options for a very reasonable option.  Gold

Gold is designed to provide warm skin tones and fill shadows with a golden sunlight effect. Gold-Silver combines gold and silver in a zig-zag pattern to even tones and adds a little warmth to your subject. Silver is used to add highlights for high-contrast images. And finally, translucent illuminates curves and detail with natural white light.

Hoya 49mm PRO ND EX 8 Filter

£42.00 View

The stylishly shallow depths of field produced by wide apertures are a fantastic way of isolating a subject against a background. However, if you happen to be shooting in bright sunshine or with studio lighting, these effects can be difficult to achieve without overexposing. This is where you can make use of a lens filter.

You don’t need an ultra-strong filter – something like the Hoya PRO ND EX 8 Filter will fit the bill. This screw-on filter limits the light entering a lens by three f-stops, with no effect to an image’s colour balance. With less light making its way to the camera’s sensor, you’re free to once more creatively use those wider apertures, without having to worry about overexposure.

PocketWizard PlusX Transceiver Twin Kit

£178.00 View

Being comfortable with off-camera flash is an essential skill for serious portrait photographers, as it provides a very fine degree of control over how you light your subject. This PlusX is very straightforward to use and the perfect entry into the PocketWizard Wireless System. The kit is compatible with all Standard Channel-capable PocketWizard transmitters and receivers, so it also works seamlessly with your existing radios and new flashes (this kit contains two PlusX Transceivers). 

Furthermore, ten standard channels enable you to claim your own 'zone' for exclusive triggering when working alongside other photographers at crowded events. The total height of the transceiver and antenna is less than 4.2 inches, and it weighs only four ounces, including batteries.

Manfrotto HiLite Background 6 x 7ft

Save £76, RRP £445

£494.95 View

Ever wondered how top documentary and portrait photographers get such wonderful people shots on location? They often take along a portable background, as distractions and clutter can be a big headache out in the field. 

The Manfrotto HiLite backgrounds range not only gives you a lovely clean background, but also enables high-key photography on location and in restrictive spaces. The white background can be lit from the rear, so you no longer need to use a background light behind the subject. And, because the background is illuminated, the subject can stand right in front of it without casting a shadow. 

HiLite backgrounds also work as large rear softboxes. They illuminate the subject, so you can use just one other flash head to light the subject from the front. This larger 6x7ft version is ideal for full-length portraits and small group shots, but can be easily packed and carried.

Westcott 220cm (7ft) Parabolic Umbrella - White/Black

£109.00 View

Umbrellas might be old school, but they still come in handy for creative portrait lighting and shouldn’t be dismissed. The Westcott 7ft Parabolic Umbrella is perfect for indoor and outdoor use. It offers a white interior that softens and broadens bounced light, while the solid black backing eliminates any potential for back-spill light. 

The umbrella's fibreglass frame is stronger and more durable than standard steel or aluminium frames, and the centre shaft has been engineered to two times its normal thickness. This durable shaft is finished off with a 7mm tapered tip, allowing for easy insertion into a variety of photographic lights.

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What is the best lens for portrait photography?

The best lens for portrait photography is typically a prime lens with a focal length of 85mm or 50mm, which provides a flattering perspective and allows for a shallow depth of field.

How do I pose subjects for portrait photography?

To pose subjects, encourage natural, relaxed positions, use prompts to evoke emotions, and adjust their body angles to create flattering lines.

What settings should I use for portrait photography?

Use a wide aperture (f1.8 to f/2.8) for a blurred background, a low ISO (100-400) for sharpness, and a shutter speed of at least 1/125s to avoid motion blur.

How can I improve lighting in portrait photography?

Natural light is a great option when it's available. Position subjects near windows, use reflectors to fill shadows and if you need it, you can use an off-camera flash for more control.

What are some tips for taking professional-looking portraits?

Focus on the eyes, use a clean background, ensure proper lighting, engage with your subject to capture natural expressions, and post-process the images for final touch-ups.

How do we decide?

Our in-house photography experts, store staff and partners all work collaboratively to pour over these guides. The cameras and equipment recommended in our guides are based on their personal opinion, empirical experience and of course, feedback from our customers. We way up price, features, quality and the all-important 'je ne sais quoi' to make sure we recommend products that will delight and inspire. 

If you would like more advice on any purchase our contact centre staff are here to help. Alternatively, you can reach us via email or social media. And don't forget. If you were to purchase anything based on our recommendations you'll be covered by our full returns policy