Portrait Photography

Portrait photography ideas can range from basic camera settings modifications to the almost impossible chore of persuading toddlers to stand still.

Although many photographers update to a good DSLR or mirrorless camera to give them more flexibility when taking family photos or pictures of friends, getting stunning shots of people is always difficult.

The distinction between amateur and professional portraiture can be significant. As a result, we’ve developed a list of 14 of the most crucial portrait photography guidelines that any photographer should be aware of.

We’ll start with the fundamentals of aperture, shutter speed, and lens selection, then go on to focusing and photo composition techniques, before demonstrating how to employ natural light and reflectors to greatly improve your results.

We’ll then go through some more sophisticated portrait photography tips, such as the advantages of using flashguns and other equipment when photographing people.

Whether you’re photographing friends or a family, and whether you’re shooting in a beautiful studio or outside in your local park, the useful ideas below can help you become a better portrait photographer.

1. When Should Exposure Compensation Be Used?

The metering system on your camera is very important while capturing pictures. It calculates how much light should enter the camera in order to get the proper exposure. It’s ingenious, but it’s not fully foolproof. The issue with multi-zone metering systems is that they take an average measurement, which is thought to be a midtone, or midway between white and black.

This assumption is correct most of the time, but a metering system can suffer when a frame is dominated by areas of intense brightness or darkness.

Light skin tones in portraiture can easily fool the camera into underexposing the photo. This is especially noticeable when shooting full-face portraits or when there is a lot of white in the scene – brides at weddings are a perfect example.

This, however, may be readily adjusted using your camera’s Exposure Compensation adjustments. To begin, use up to +1 stop of positive Exposure Compensation to brighten people’s faces. Examine your images, and if you believe they need to be lightened even further, increase this value.

2. Aperture guidance

When photographing portraits, use a wide aperture (f/2.8-f/5.6) to get a shallow depth of field, so the background behind your subject is nicely blurred, allowing them to stand out more.

To regulate depth of field, choose Aperture Priority mode; in this mode, your DSLR will automatically determine the shutter speed for proper exposure.

In order to blur backgrounds even further, specialist portrait lenses have even wider maximum apertures (from f/1.4 to f/2.8).

3. Shutter speed adjustments

When determining shutter speed, keep your lens’s focal length in mind; otherwise, camera shake (and blurred images) will become an issue.

As a general guideline, your shutter speed should be greater than your effective focal length. For example, at 200mm, utilise a shutter speed of 1/250 sec or faster.

This also means that when using a wide-angle lens, you may get away with slower shutter speeds, such as 1/20sec with an 18mm focal length.

While it won’t assist if your subject is moving swiftly, remember to utilise your camera’s anti-shake feature. While some camera systems have this built-in around the sensor, others choose to have the mechanism in the lens, which has the advantage of allowing you to see the effect in the viewfinder.

This technology will not be found in every lens, but if you have it, use it. You’ll be able to photograph handheld at considerably lower shutter speeds than you would typically be able to accomplish and still get pin-sharp results.

4. Boost your ISO

People move around a lot while being taken, not to mention blink and continually change their facial expressions – and there’s nothing worse than a photo of someone half-blinking or gurning instead of smiling!

To circumvent these issues and avoid motion blur, use a fast shutter speed.

This will also help to assure clear shots and avoid camera shake because you’ll be shooting portraits handheld most of the time.

To raise your shutter speed while in Aperture Priority mode and keeping a wide aperture, simply increase your ISO (from ISO100 to ISO400, say).

In low light (both indoors and outdoors), you may need to boost the ISO to 1,600, 3,200, or even 6,400. A little grain is far superior to a blurry, unusable photograph.

5. Lens choice

The lens you use has a significant impact on the quality of your portrait photographs. A wide-angle lens is required for photographs with visual impact. Shooting from a low perspective will make your subject appear taller than they are. This is an excellent method for deceiving the eye and altering the perspective of things and people.

However, don’t get too near or you’ll see some distortion, which isn’t flattering at all! Simply tilting the camera at an angle to add drama to a wide-angle photo will do the trick.

The model is still the main topic in the scene when using a medium telephoto lens like 85mm or 105mm, but the background plays a vital role in the image – the steps in the photograph above appear out of focus and act as additional point of interest. Always keep an eye on what’s going on in the background.

A telephoto lens, such as a 70-200mm f/2.8, is an excellent tool for creating breathtaking portraits. You can then limit the number of background and foreground distractions on display by zooming in closer to focus more on your subject.