Useful Portrait / People Photography Tips from the Huawei Photography Masterclass by Shaira Luna

Today,  I attended the Huawei Photography Masterclass facilitated by one of the country’s sought after fashion photographers, Ms. Shaira Luna.

The half-day event was held at the Habitat Manila, located at the 3rd floor Abenson’s Bldg in BGC. It was attended by a good mix of photography enthusiasts and fellow Huawei fanatics like me. =)

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During Shaira Luna’s talk, she shared expert tips on how to capture pro-like portrait/people photos and also tips and tricks on how to maximize the camera features of the Huawei P30 Pro.

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Here’s a list of the things she shared during the talk…

Things to consider when taking someone’s photo:

Aside from basic components such as Composition, Angle and Framing, Colors, and Pose or Position, she specifically emphasized on the ff:

  1. The Subject: Connect. Know your subject. Make him/her feel comfortable. Interact with your subject to get more genuine smiles, feelings and reactions.
  2. The purpose: Know the purpose of the shoot (obviously). Is it for a person’s portfolio? Birthday? Prenup? Wedding? Knowing the purpose of the shoot can help you choose a good theme/look, props to use, gear to bring and location for the shoot. Knowing the purpose way ahead also gives you enough time to do an artistic plan or find pegs. It pays to be prepared.
  3. The scene or location: Location is also key. Ideally, it’s nice to pick a place with a good natural light source, so you don’t need to bring a lot of strobes or led lights. In my own shoots, I usually only bring a diffuser with me and an external flash to light my subject/s accordingly.
  4. The mood: Setting a mood or atmosphere contributes a lot in your overall storytelling and “feel.” Remember, a good photograph should evoke emotion and setting a proper mood greatly contributes to this. Nowadays, there are also useful photography apps that help you create moods instantly.  For example, you may choose vibrant colors and lots of sun to evoke happiness. Dark and less saturated colors give you a melancholy feel. Monochromatic photos give you a  somewhat nostalgic feel. Retro filters, on the other hand, create photos with a 60’s 70’s feel. Don’t be afraid to experiment and enjoy this process.

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Other useful tips from Shaira Luna:

Shaira Luna also gave out tips on lighting…

  1. For Portraits / People photography, it’s always a good idea to use diffused light for softer, better-looking skin tone.
  2. Learn to use Back Light or Rim Light. Placing your light source at the back of your subject helps you create highlights and shadows that make your subject pop/stand out. It also adds more drama to your scene.
  3. Use beauty light to evenly light your subject’s face. Use a diffuser to bounce light from your main light source to eliminate unnecessary shadows.
  4. Low light? No problem! – on these scenarios, you can still actually do a bunch of stuff like, 1. placing your focal point closer to your light source and decide which parts will have shadows and highlights; 2. Pick an interesting scene that can match a mood that looks nice even on low light scenarios. 3. Adjust your camera settings. Open the aperture more, setting slower shutter speed and higher ISO usually does the job. If you’re using a smartphone, pick a smartphone that is capable of taking excellent photos even on low-light like the Huawei P30 Pro with it’s super sensing Leica Quad Camera.

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After the talk, it was time for us participants to apply the tips we learned from Shaira. The organizers prepared 4 photo areas with professional models for us to get a chance to experience a real portrait shoot session. We were also encouraged to submit 4 of our best shots for the photo contest.

Here are the shots I created during that afternoon….

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To my surprise, I even won 1st place in the photo contest. What a lucky day! I always thought I sucked at taking photos of people, so I couldn’t believe my photo would be chosen as the best in that workshop. I’ve always been fond of still life as my subjects (food, objects, nature etc) for I find them easier to shoot. But with this experience, I’m slowly becoming more and more interested in taking portraits… hmmm perhaps a new worthwhile subject to explore. Why not?

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Special thanks to Shaira Luna for sharing her time and valuable tips to us. I really, really enjoyed this class! Many many thanks also to the Huawei team for always coming up with fun interesting events and activities!

For more details about the amazing Huawei P30 Pro series, visit