Portrait photography tips can range from simple tweaks to your camera settings to the seemingly impossible task of keeping kids still.
While many photographers are switching to a decent DSLR or mirrorless camera to give them more control when taking family portraits or photos of friends, getting great photos of people is still a challenge.
The difference between amateur and professional portraits can be vast. So we’ve compiled this list of 14 of the most important portrait photography tips every photographer should know.
We’ll start with the basics of aperture, shutter speed, and lens choice, then move on to focusing and photo composition techniques, before showing you how to use natural light and reflectors to dramatically improve your results.
Next, we’ll cover some of the more advanced portrait photography tips, such as the benefits of using flashes and other accessories when shooting portraits.
Whether you’re taking portraits of your friends or you’ve been tasked with photographing a family, and you’re shooting in a pristine studio or outside in your local park, the helpful tips below will help you become a better photographer. portraitist.
1. When to use exposure compensation
Your camera’s metering system plays a vital role in shooting. It calculates the amount of light that must enter the camera to achieve the correct exposure. It’s very smart, but it’s not completely foolproof. The problem with multizone measurement systems is that you need an average reading, and that reading is assumed to be a mid-tone, or in other words, halfway between white and black.
Most often this assumption is correct, but a measurement system can have difficulty when a frame is dominated by areas of extreme light or darkness.
When shooting portraits, light skin tones can easily cause the camera to underexpose the photo. You’ll notice this more when taking photos from the front or when there is a lot of white in the scene – brides at weddings are a prime example.
This can be quickly corrected with your camera’s exposure compensation controls. For starters, try dialing up to +1 positive exposure compensation stop to brighten people’s faces. Review your shots and if you think they need to be clarified even more, increase them further.
2. Opening tips
When shooting portraits, it’s best to set a wide aperture (around f / 2.8-f / 5.6) to capture a shallow depth of field, so that the background behind your subject be very fuzzy, which makes them stand out better.
Shoot in Aperture Priority mode to control depth of field; in this mode, your digital SLR will usefully adjust the shutter speed for the correct exposure.
Specialized portrait lenses tend to have even wider maximum apertures (from f / 1.4 to f / 2.8) in order to further blur backgrounds.
3. Shutter speed settings
When adjusting the shutter speed, consider the focal length of your lens, otherwise camera shake (and blurry results) will become a problem.
As a general rule of thumb, make sure your shutter speed is faster than your effective focal length. For example, at 200mm, use a shutter speed of 1/250 s or more.
It also means you can get by with slower shutter speeds when using a wide angle lens – like 1/20 sec with an 18mm focal length.
While it won’t help if your subject is moving quickly, don’t forget to use your camera’s anti-shake system. While some camera systems have this built-in around the sensor, some camera systems prefer to have the system in the lens – the advantage being that you can see the effect in the viewfinder.
However, not all lenses will have this technology, but if you have it, use it. You will be able to take hand-held photos at shutter speeds much slower than you would normally have been able to do and still come away with crisp shots.
4. Increase your ISO
People move around a lot when they are photographed, not to mention blinking their eyes and constantly changing facial expressions – and there’s nothing worse than a photo of someone blinking or growling at the eyes. place to smile!
To avoid these problems and avoid the appearance of motion blur, you will need to use a fast shutter speed.
It will also help ensure sharp shots and prevent camera shake, as more often than not you will be shooting handheld portraits.
In Aperture Priority mode and maintaining a wide aperture, to increase your shutter speed, simply increase your ISO (from ISO 100 to ISO 400, say).
In low light conditions (indoor and outdoor) you may need to increase it to ISO 1600, 3200 or even 6400 ISO. A little grain is infinitely better than a blurry, unnecessary photo.
5. Choice of objective
Your choice of lens has a big impact on your portrait photos. For visually impactful portraits, a wide-angle lens is essential. Shooting from a low angle will make your subject look bigger than it actually is. This is a great technique for tricking the eye and changing the perspective of objects and people. However, be careful not to get too close, because you might see distortions, which is not at all flattering! To add even more drama to a wide angle shot, just try tilting the camera at a certain angle.
When using a medium telephoto lens such as 85mm or 105mm, the model is still the main subject in the scene, but the background plays an important role in the image – the steps in the photo above appear blurry and act as another point of interest. Always pay attention to what is going on in the background.
A telephoto lens like a 70-200mm f / 2.8 is one of the best tools for creating stunning portraits. By allowing you to zoom in closer to focus more on your subject, you can then reduce the amount of background and foreground distractions on the display.