So you want to take portraits? Great! There are a couple of basic tips and reminders that you should always check before you press that shutter button. Now that you’ve learned some of the terminology you can put it to good use. To aid with the process, here are a couple of basic tips for shooting portraits in the studio or anywhere else.
Get the Right Lens
Shooting portraits with a DSLR requires first and foremost, the correct lenses. The reason why your lenses are so important are for premium sharpness, detail, depth of field, etc. Here are the most popular and affordable portrait lenses for different systems:
Pentax- 50mm F1.4 For all their cameras.
Olympus/Panasonic Four Thirds- 50mm F2 For all their digital cameras
Olympus/Panasonic Micro Four Thirds- Panasonic Leica 45mm F2.8 For all their cameras
Stop the Lens Down
What this means is closing the aperture/F stop. If you’re using flashes, you should use your camera TTL or E-TTL settings to get this right. Usually, some lenses are closed down to F4 or beyond to get full sharpness of the facial features but balance that with a blurry background (bokeh.) You should be able to see all this through the viewfinder or LCD.
If you’re shooting at a slow shutter speed, then use a tripod for best results. If you’re not, then hold steady or try to raise your flash output so you can raise your shutter speed. This can be done via your flash (for later and more advanced ones like Canon’s 430 EX II) or through your camera.
Get the Right Light
Great portraits need to be lit correctly. For that you need to be able to take careful notice of how the light is around you. If the sun is behind your subject, then you’re going to need to set your camera settings correctly so that they don’t come out looking too dark. Or you could just use a flash.
Generally, having your subject look into the sun can cause them to squint and that doesn’t make for great photos. Flash is probably your best bet unless you have studio strobes available.
To not overpower your subject with too much lighting, I recommend the Gary Fong Lightsphere. I used it to take the picture above.
That’s really the most effective way of shooting portraits. The eyes always tell us quite a bit. Be sure to prep your model’s mentality as well for the type of photo you’re looking to shoot.
Make It Fun
Fun portraits are not only fun to shoot but also make for photos that are stared at much longer. To make it fun, try doing something non-traditional in your shot. Perhaps make funny faces, dress up differently, etc.
Be creative and random.
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