8 Top Portrait Photographers in Los Angeles

Welcome to Hollywood! The “Entertainment Capital of the World” image is, of course, the automatic impression many have of this huge sprawling California metropolis. We were not immune to that mindset, and fully expected to see an equally huge number of excellent Los Angeles portrait photographers to choose from for this post. We weren’t wrong. Here’s the initial set of talent; expect us to revisit the city to feature lots more!

Specializing in capturing sports, Jeff Dojillo’s portraits are particularly powerful, and not because they are mainly of combat sports athletes. His subjects are already inherently and obviously vessels of raw power and energy just waiting to be unleashed; Dojillo’s handiwork adds an incredible visual layer that humanizes these warriors, their physiques and usually stoic expressions notwithstanding. And Dojillo does it beautifully, both figuratively and literally, capturing and expressing his images with superb quality in both color and black-and-white (the latter of which we are particularly enamored). These portraits are truly masterful work.

Creatively conceptualized images is a dominant facet of Dorit Thies’s work, an excellent fit for the many commercial branding and fashion shoots she does. It’s an approach, in fact, that we expected to see a lot more of from Los Angeles portrait photographers. Well, to be fair, others do try it, but Thies is a master at it.

She basically creates photographic paintings, the camera her paintbrush, so this makes her portrait styles as varied and as impossible to peg down as her imagination. They can be simpler and more traditional shots, like this one featured here of Kristin Cavallari, and they can be wildly abstract and practically surrealistic. This makes exploring her portfolios an adventure—you just don’t know what you’ll see and where the images will take you. But one thing’s consistent: her images are simply brilliant.

As if commercial lifestyle photographer Megumi Bacher’s work isn’t charmingly eye-catching enough as it is, her delightful children’s portraits will have you riveted to the screen, flipping through her work. Generally doing both in-home and outside location shoots, Bacher’s images are actually compositionally direct and simple, mostly with a natural light feel, so there isn’t much technical and heavily manufactured creative trickery going on.

What her work does show is Bacher’s ability to prep and direct her little subjects and to click that shutter at just the right moment. Anyone who’s photographed children knows that’s no small feat, often resorting to leaving them alone and taking a bunch of candids. We can visually tell that’s generally not Bacher’s approach, with her direct interaction a key to her wonderful results.

We’re all familiar with the standard corporate headshot look-and-feel, little more than photo booth snap templates of folks who look like they’d rather be somewhere else. So it’s always fascinating to see what a huge difference a talented professional behind the camera makes, something we can immediately spot in portrait photographer Kenny Gozali’s work. His subjects look absolutely natural, relaxed, and even enjoying themselves! Their smiles are genuine, their demeanor friendly and welcoming. Gozali has the ability to make all that come through his images. The photographer’s technical mastery is crucial, of course, but we can see Gozali’s expertise with our own eyes, from the naturally-lit look he manages to produce both outdoors and in, to his compositions, relying on little more than what’s environmentally available to produce truly impressive shots.

Beauty and fashion photography is Yuliana Chi’s primary focus, and all we have to do is take one look at the images in her portfolio to realize that she really knows her stuff. Very, very slick. And she should be. She worked 10+ years doing photo retouching before making the leap to full-blown professional photography, which she’s been doing ever since (5+ years). That means for nearly two decades, producing perfection has been Chi’s thing, and it shows. She carries that experience and skillset over to her other portrait-related photographic services, such as headshots and personal branding, so now you know who to call among Los Angeles portrait photographers if her visual sensibilities are the exact look you’re going for.

Photographer Olivia York’s pictures tell us a lot. Although her website doesn’t explicitly state portrait services, we can see it’s a major part of the subgenres she does feature, and we can see her striking portraits with our own eyes as we explore her modest website and Instagram portfolios. Coming across one of her portraits is what brought her to our attention in the first place! It doesn’t take a humongous amount of images to see that York is more than just competent, demonstrating an impressive versatility in mediums and environments to boot—color, black-and-white, on location, and in-studio (you’ve really got to see her totally adorable studio baby portraits!). Bright, sharp, and expressive, we think you’ll be just as impressed with her work as we are.

While exploring her work on Instagram and her website, it’s impossible not to notice that headshot photographer Tamara Tihanyi specializes in capturing portraits of kids. But she’s more than that. To start, Tihanyi is one of the top agency-recommended children’s headshot photographers in Los Angeles. The sheer number of superb and beautifully executed photographs of kids—from the very young to teenagers—in her portfolios confirms that fact. Another fact: Tihanyi doesn’t limit her services to kids, or even just actors. We can see examples of adult headshots and personal branding pictures in her body of work, all rendered in the same clean, bright, comfortable, and thoroughly appealing style. It works well for kids; no reason they can’t do magic for you too.

A couple of obvious traits immediately set commercial and editorial photographer Wil Cohen’s work apart from those by other Los Angeles portrait photographers. The man clearly loves—and is brilliant at—black-and-white photography, for one. Cohen shoots color too (and superbly), but you’ll notice that even his color work has a dark, moody, monochromatic feel. Which leads us to the second observation: smiles are very much an extreme rarity in his photographs. And it’s seriousness we see, even simmering anger at times, most definitely not an indifferent stoicism. If you can ignore Cohen’s photos, you’re just not paying attention.