The Midjourney Masterclass: A Complete Guide to Crafting Photorealistic Images

As Midjourney keeps evolving, the caliber of its photorealistic images is simply soaring.

You jot down a quick prompt, and boom! Midjourney conjures up an image so lifelike, you’d think it was snapped by a professional photographer.

Yet, let’s be real—sometimes, the outcome isn’t quite what we’d hoped for. Instead of a stunning photo or a captivating work of art, you get something that awkwardly straddles the two.

Now, what if I told you that by adopting the mindset of a photographer and carefully choosing our language, we can steer Midjourney to deliver precisely what we envision?

In this story, we’re embarking on a journey—from mastering the basics to exploring advanced strategies—to unlock the full potential of Midjourney in creating true-to-life images.

Part 1: Basic Strategies for Achieving Photorealism

Ever craved a lifelike image from Midjourney, only to receive something more akin to a digital painting? Trust me, you’re not alone. You prompt it with something straightforward like “a young woman,” and it serves up an artsy portrait.

midjourney prompt bad example 1

However, all it takes to steer the ship in the right direction is a few simple tweaks to your prompts. Let’s dig in.

1. Use Photo-Specific Language in Your Prompts

First up, consider peppering your prompts with words directly related to photography. Think “photo,” “photograph,” or even “raw image.” You’d be surprised how much of a difference this small change can make in ensuring you get a realistic outcome.

Prompt: portrait photography of a young woman

adding photo related words into midjourney prompt to make it more realitic

2. Invoke Commercial Stock Photography Keywords

You know those hyper-realistic photos we often see on stock image sites? They’re the work of a myriad of photographers. So why not bring that level of realism into your prompts? Just toss in words like “stock image,” “getty image,” “shutterstock,” “pixabay,” or “unsplash” to set the tone for commercial-grade realism.

Prompt: getty image of a young woman

adding stock image related words into midjourney prompt for photorealism

Prompt: a young woman, shutterstock

adding stock image related words into midjourney prompt for photorealism 2

3. Provide Detailed Descriptions

Vague prompts like “a young woman” often leave too much to Midjourney’s interpretation, landing you in “painterly” territory. Go for a richer, more descriptive prompt.

For example, “a young woman with shoulder length auburn hair, bright green eyes, light freckles across her nose, wearing a pink floral print dress, laughing joyfully” could work wonders for achieving a realistic image.

write detailed midjourney prompt for photorealism

4. Utilize RAW Mode

The RAW mode can also be your best friend here. Simply add the parameter “–style raw,” and you’ll notice a remarkable shift toward realism in your output.

using raw mode in midjourney prompt for photorealism

5. Integrate Photography Jargon

Incorporating technical terms related to photography can elevate your images from merely “good” to “professional-grade.”

From lighting and perspective to camera and lens, these terms offer nuanced directions to Midjourney. We’ll delve deeper into this treasure trove of language in the sections that follow.

In sum, with a few careful choices in prompt and settings, you can transform the way Midjourney interprets your creative vision. Ready to level up your image generation game? Stay tuned; I’ve got plenty more tips and techniques up our sleeve.

Part 2: Midjourney Advanced Tips: Master the Photographer’s Mindset

Creating breathtaking visuals with Midjourney isn’t about slapping together a random prompt. No, it requires adopting the discerning eye of a photographer.

Think critically about each element—subject, composition, lighting, and even camera settings—to craft a snapshot that perfectly captures your vision.

Let’s say you want to create a portrait with a blurred background. A photographer achieves this by selecting an engaging subject, angling the camera just so, perfecting the lighting, and adjusting the aperture.

Good news: you can mirror all these aspects within Midjourney through well-constructed prompts.

1. Embrace Diverse Photographic Styles

Midjourney offers you a digital playground, an endless studio where you can experiment with a multitude of photography styles.

In a previous story, I outlined 25 different genres, each requiring its own set of prompting techniques.

👉 Master Midjourney Photography Prompts: Your Ultimate Guide to 25 Photography Genres

Before you set out to generate a photorealistic image, pause for a moment. Consider the specific style or genre you’re aiming for, as this gives your creative endeavor more direction.

For instance, if you want to marry two elements into a surreal vision, think about employing double exposure techniques.

Prompt: Double exposure of a yogi in a meditation pose and a galaxy, aiming for spiritual transcendence, white background, by Dan Hillier –s 750 –style raw

midjourney photorealistic prompt photography genre example

Mixing styles can yield unexpectedly captivating results.

Prompt: Fusion of fashion and surreal photography – a model floats wearing a flowing gown that morphs into clouds –s 750 –style raw

midjourney photorealistic prompt photography genre example

And when you aim to emulate a specific genre, don’t hesitate to name-drop masters of the craft—like renowned portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz—to guide Midjourney’s output.

Prompt: A young East Asian woman with straight black hair, almond shaped eyes, cherry red lips, wearing a jade green cheongsam and vintage shoes, standing elegantly, portrait by Annie Leibovitz –ar 2:3 –s 750 –style raw

midjourney photorealistic prompt photography genre example

Here’s a quick rundown of genre-specific prompt examples to get those creative juices flowing:

  • Long Exposure Photography: To capture that dreamy landscape, use a prompt like “ethereal long exposure landscape with meandering river.” Infuse additional details like “30s shutter speed” for enhanced effect.
  • Street Photography: Craft prompts with rich detail, naming locales (“bustling Tokyo cityscape”), iconic cameras (“Leica M6”), and classic themes (“black-and-white,” “decisive moment”).
  • Landscape Photography: Be explicit about locations (“Yosemite Valley”), perspectives (“aerial shots”), moods (“twilight”), and even specialized equipment (“Hasselblad X1D”) to achieve that perfect shot.
  • Portrait Photography: Include lighting techniques (“Rembrandt lighting”), composition (“contemplative side shot”), and post-processing effects (“black and white high Contrast”) to master the portrait game.
  • Abstract Photography: Here, descriptive terminology shines. Think “geometric shapes,” “swirls,” or even “light painting.” Don’t shy away from referencing artistic luminaries like Man Ray to set the creative tone.
  • Still Life Photography: Dive into compositional elements (“dramatic shadows”), props (“vintage books”), and atmosphere to complete your still life masterpiece.

2. The Art of Light: Your Invisible Paintbrush

Light isn’t just illumination. It’s your invisible brushstroke that can dramatically sway the mood of your photo. Ever noticed how a drab, uneventful scene can suddenly pop under the spell of dramatic lighting? Yep, that’s the power of light at work.

Instead of simply using the word “portrait” in your prompt, why not throw in specifics about lighting? Mimic the finesse of a pro photographer’s studio lighting.

Prompt: A young Japanese woman with chin length black hair, warm brown eyes, rosy cheeks, wearing a kimono, feeling tranquil, under a cherry blossom tree, Rembrandt lighting –ar 2:3 –s 750 –style raw

adding lighting into midjourney prompt for photorealism 1

For outdoor settings, it’s just as crucial—utilize natural, dramatic light to infuse vividness into your scenes. And let’s talk moods; different lighting styles can stir up varying emotions. For instance, a golden sunset can literally “warm up” your image, injecting it with a palpable sense of positivity.

Prompt: A young woman with long chestnut waves, almond eyes, wearing a boho dress, looking carefree and adventurous, walking barefoot on the beach at sunset, golden hour lighting –ar 2:3 –s 750 –style raw

adding lighting into midjourney prompt for photorealism

If you’re aiming for something otherworldly, you might consider prompts that involve ethereal or “magical” lighting. The sunbeam, for example, is like a ray of light from heaven.

Prompt: Ballerina mid-leap, sunbeam spotlighting her form, elegant pose, soft tulle skirt, stark contrast with dark background, artistic portrait –s 750 –style raw

adding lighting into midjourney prompt for photorealism

And let’s not overlook abstract photography. Light can be a game-changer here as well, accentuating textures and materials to a compelling degree.

Prompt: black and white abstract photography, in the style of layered translucency, flowing fabrics, translucent overlapping, abstract watercolor, haunting structures, backlit accenting the texture –s 750 –style raw

adding lighting into midjourney prompt for photorealism 4

The examples mentioned here are just the tip of the iceberg. For a deeper dive into the fascinating world of photographic lighting, check out my dedicated article.

👉 12+ Powerful Midjourney Lighting Prompts to Elevate Your AI Art

3. The Lens and Camera Factor

When it comes to finetuning your Midjourney prompts, never underestimate the role of the camera or lens. Adding specific camera or lens details allows Midjourney’s algorithms to emulate the unique characteristics of these devices, thereby transforming the final output.

Take disposable cameras, for instance. These can lend your images a nostalgic, vintage flair.

Prompt: disposable camera photo of a little girl blowing a dandelion, backlit by the sun, individual seeds caught in soft focus, innocence captured –s 200 –style raw

adding disposable camera into midjourney prompt for photorealism

On the flip side, consider mentioning a state-of-the-art medium format camera like the Hasselblad X1D. This beauty offers ultra-high resolution and nuanced color tones, enhancing the sophistication of your shots.

Prompt: Vintage car parked on a cobblestone street, worn paint and rust details, Hasselblad X1D –s 750 –style raw

adding hasselblad camera into midjourney prompt for photorealism

Film isn’t out of fashion, either. Adding it to your prompts can transport your photos into a timeless realm. For example, referencing the Ilford HP5 Plus film in your prompt could offer a subtle, grainy texture, adding layers of charm to your photo.

Prompt: side view of a racing greyhound, frozen in full stride, harsh lighting highlighting muscles and motion, robust thighs, elongated legs, Ilford HP5 Plus –s 750 –style raw –ar 16:9

adding film into midjourney prompt for photorealism

Special lenses also bring their own kind of magic. A fisheye lens, for example, could be your go-to for capturing exaggerated, playful expressions.

Prompt: Fisheye lens captures a crazy baby –s 750 –style raw

adding fisheye lens midjourney prompt for photorealism

And then there are Lensbaby lenses, the dream-weavers of the photography world. With their selective focus and distinct bokeh effects, these lenses allow for some truly imaginative and surreal creations.

Prompt: lensbaby shot of young woman in a meadow, swirling bokeh background, ethereal lighting casting soft shadows on her face, dreamlike atmosphere –s 750 –style raw

adding lensbaby into midjourney prompt for photorealism

Want to delve deeper into the nitty-gritty of cameras and film? I’ve got an entire story that peels back the layers of these game-changing factors in photography.

👉 Exploring Camera and Film Effects in Midjourney: A Comprehensive Guide with Prompts and Examples

4. Control the Perspective

One of the beautiful things about Midjourney is that it doesn’t just let us create, but it lets us truly direct. We hold the power to guide the AI’s virtual gaze, determining precisely how a scene unfolds through different angles and perspectives.

Picture this: a low-angle shot. It has a unique way of amplifying the grandeur of subjects. The Eiffel Tower, already a marvel, appears to touch the skies when seen from this angle. And for portraits? This perspective stretches out the legs, giving subjects an imposing and larger-than-life aura.

Prompt: extreme low angle view of bride in her wedding dress, train trailing behind her, backlit to create an ethereal silhouette, emphasis on the grandeur of the gown, Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 –s 750 –style raw –ar 16:9

adding camera angles into midjourney prompt for photorealism

Now, let’s soar and adopt a high-angle viewpoint. Everything suddenly becomes delicate, intricate. From this bird’s-eye perspective, the world takes on a new structure, almost like pieces of a living puzzle.

Prompt: Aerial shot of a snow-covered village at dawn, with houses and streets forming a pattern in a blanket of white, a winter wonderland –ar 16:9

adding camera angles into midjourney prompt for photorealism

Don’t forget the power of side profiles. They unveil features we might overlook head-on, like the pronounced lines of a well-defined face.

And let’s not even get started on the wonders of extreme close-ups! They’re like a magic door to an unseen universe.

Prompt: extreme close-up front view of a dragonfly’s eyes –ar 16:9 –s 750 –style raw

adding camera angles into midjourney prompt for photorealism

The lens’s distance? Yet another tool in our arsenal. Wide, panoramic views paint a narrative of vastness, where subjects might appear dwarfed against the awe of their surroundings.

Switch to a telephoto lens, and suddenly, it’s an intimate affair, where our subject stands out, set against a soft, blurry bokeh backdrop.

Prompt: extra wide shot of sunset over the Grand Canyon, golden light illuminating every ridge and crevice, broad shadows adding depth, expansive sky filled with wispy clouds –ar 16:9 –s 750 –style raw

adding camera angles into midjourney prompt for photorealism

With Midjourney, it’s like having a versatile, dynamic camera right at our fingertips. With the right angles and perspectives, we can create scenes that not only captivate but also immerse our viewers completely. Hungry for more on this? I’ve got an entire article that dives deeper into this topic. 👉 Master Midjourney: Camera Angles and Shot Types

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