5 Tips for Portrait Photography

Girl, have you considered dabbling in  your hobby and really take it to the next level? Well, let’s get you started off with the right foot!

Portrait photography is a tricky skill and most don’t know the simple little tricks that Pros use to bring out the best in their subjects and make their photos stand out. The good news for you is that we’ve got you covered!


1. Focus on the Eyes
This sounds like common sense and you probably think you’re already doing it, but guess what?

If you’re using the auto focus function on your camera, you’re not. You’re actually focusing on the nose which will throw the eyes slightly out of focus when using a shallow depth of field (or large aperture). The camera will automatically focus on whatever is closest to it unless you make sure you line the focus brackets up with the eyes. You can also choose to manually focus to zoom in on those gorgeous features!

2. Bounce the Flash
Try not to use the built-in camera flash for portraits.

There are tons of inexpensive flash devices you can buy to connect to your camera for more options. So even if you can’t afford other lighting you can angle an attached flash away from the subject and use something like a piece of white posterboard to bounce the flash back onto their face. You will need to experiment with the placement of the lighting depending on the natural light you are using, but this technique will yield a much more subtle result than direct flash.

Ex: First, try having someone use the reflector (or posterboard) a couple feet away from your subject on the side and aim the flash at that. You can then have your assistant step closer, try the other side or underneath the face. Find the angle that works best for the light you’re using.


3. Use Natural Lighting
If you can’t afford beauty dishes or other off-camera lighting accessories, you can still achieve studio results with natural available light.

One of the most popular ways to light someone’s face is by having them hold a reflector, such as that white piece of posterboard out in front of them like a plate. This way the sun bounces off the white to illuminate the face from underneath and diminish shadows. Try shooting with the sun a little to the side of your subject, so mid-morning or late afternoon are best.

4. Use an 85 mm Lens
This rule isn’t hard and fast, but using a zoom lens or fixed lens at about 85 mm creates the best effect because you’re able to blur out more of the background and foreground when you use a large aperture (ex: f/2.8-f/5.6).

5. Compensate for Exposure
This tip is a little more advance but it makes a big enough difference that it’s worth mentioning. Lots of factors come into play when the camera is deciding how to meter the light, such as skin tone, clothing colors, etc., so it helps to know how to tell your camera when to adjust its exposure.

On most cameras there is an exposure compensation button with a “+” and a “-” on it. If you’re not sure check your camera manual for directions. Begin by adding +1 stop of exposure to lighten up your subject’s face, and then adjust from there. You’ll probably need to experiment with this and maybe take several different photos with different exposure compensation amounts until you get the look you prefer.

Get That Camera off Auto Mode and Keep Practicing Girl!
Nothing makes you a better photographer like practice.

You’ll soon start to develop your own style and find tricks and settings that work best for you.

But if you’ll start out with these photo tips and adjust them to fit your needs, your neighbors will soon be calling to hire you to take their family portraits.



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