Miami is known for its Art-Deco architecture, vibrant cultural scene, and white-sand beaches that attract a combination of locals, energetic party-goers, and laid-back vacationers from around the world. Given the abundance of bright tropical colors and soft natural light, the place is also a dream for on-site portrait photographers. The best Miami portrait photographers know how to harness these elements without losing focus on the humanity of their subjects. Check out the most talented Miami portrait photographers who have developed their own unique styles and approaches to portraiture.
Celia Luna’s signature use of splashy color combinations are the mark of a photographer who takes deep inspiration from the stunning visual atmosphere of the city she calls home. Her female-focused portraits manage to simultaneously convey moods of empowerment, strength, and unadulterated joy. Even as she flirts with surreal themes and explores surprising juxtapositions of imagery, cultural associations, and the natural environment, her tightly framed shots never veer away from attention to authentic human emotions.
2. Alex Veliz
Alex Veliz’s outdoor portraiture is defined by a hip and professional aesthetic that tends to convey a sense of adventure. Perhaps due to his preference for zoomed-out aerial shots, and sexy-looking cityscapes, Veliz has a knack for experimenting with lines and shadows in his close-up portraits. Street shots that capture people immersed in unexpected activities are another area of strength. Beyond admiring his work, we think it’d be cool to tag along with Veliz on one of his shoots just to see what happens!
3. Petro Kitsul
Petro Kitsul is known for his glamour photography that is closely attuned to Miami’s sensual atmosphere. A master at manipulating shadows and natural light, he frequently shoots swimwear and fashion models against the backdrop of artfully crafted beach scenes. In addition to his phenomenal glamour and fashion work, his wedding photography is also in high demand. This is because Kitsul prides himself on helping couples navigate the emotional roller coaster that is often their wedding day — all in service of capturing their most authentic moments of connection.
Mistique Piedra Jassu specializes in newborn and maternity portraiture that captures mothers and their newborn babies in surprising, sometimes humorous positions. Her expertly-framed studio portraits are infused with as much professionalism and attention to editorial detail as they are empathy for the emotional complexity of motherhood. Outside the studio, she photographs families and couples on-location in some of South Florida’s most unique outdoor settings.
Igor Trifonov brings a fine-tuned creative approach to wedding portraiture. Taking advantage of original combinations of angles and spacing, his bold compositional techniques have earned Igor a reputation as one of Miami’s premier wedding photographers. Trifonov’s use of dark tones and heightened contrast give his portraits a distinctly modern feel that is often emphasized by couples appearing against backdrops of cityscapes at night.
Colleen Sanclemente is a lifestyle and wedding photographer who is clearly having fun with what she’s doing. She is something of a rising star in the world of Miami photography, having already developed her own innovative approaches to using natural light and shadows. Her specialty is capturing young couples in rural settings. Something else that sets her apart from other lifestyle portraitists in Miami is an ability to avoid the use of overly sentimental poses and cheesy compositional arrangements.
Among the best Miami portrait photographers, April Design is probably the one most focused on bold black-and-white work. It emphasizes mood and depth of feeling, and she herself accurately describes it as noir. Her work is unique in part because it differs from so much of the on-location portraiture that can be found within Miami. In addition to shooting for a range of fashion clients, she specializes in maternity and newborn photography that has a fine art feel.
It’s not hard to imagine a good deal of Valerie Perez’s portrait shots being used as album covers for the hippest indie rock bands. Perez’s photographs, in other words, possess an immediately recognizable aesthetic that often centers on her ability to find beauty in everyday landscapes and buildings. Stated in another way, she is adept at blending the modern with the traditional — in part because she continues to shoot a large portion of her portraits with film. When shooting environmental portraiture, she likes to position her subjects against deep reds and blues and other bold color patterns.
Jean-Joseph Napoléon has staked his reputation on his diverse portfolio of both studio and on-site portraiture. Along with fashion and beauty, he is skilled at wedding photography, maternity and newborn shoots, and is equally comfortable working with natural light as he is engineering a technical studio arrangement. Napoléon’s more traditional portraits are anything but boring, emphasizing unusual angles and zoomed-in views of his mostly female subjects’ eyes. He is also well known for experimenting with depth of field in natural settings.
10. Dasha Parker
Dasha Parker creates fashion and glamour photography that seems as if it was ripped right out of the pages of a glossy magazine. Parker’s portraits have a self-assured quality that indicates she knows exactly what she wants from an artistic perspective. Her close-up studio shots sometimes veer in a fine art direction, incorporating edgy themes and unexpected visual elements. Having carved out a reputation that is based on powerful, raw, and instantly recognizable arrangements, she has cemented her position among the best Miami portrait photographers.
The husband-and-wife photography team of Jonathan and Julie Mavila are particularly adept at capturing the joy and energy of teens and young adults. Much of their work includes bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, and weddings — all of which demand skilled use of external lighting. The pair is equally adept at traditional studio portraits and crafting on-site shoots that emphasize the flowers and fauna of South Florida’s natural environment.
12. Tolga Kavut
Tolga Kavut’s work has an exceedingly stylish and attention-grabbing air to it, very well-suited for commercial publication. It’s fun, energetic, and technically solid. For our money, Kavut’s work shines brightest when it has a more editorial-style tone, as Kavut has a keen eye for composing evocative scenes. He’s definitely one to watch, and he’s definitely one of the best Miami portrait photographers.