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7 Quick Tips for Portrait Photographers

Some great quick tips for portrait photographers looking to improve their craft.

Taking portraits is simultaneously one of the most enjoyable and challenging experiences you can find as a photographer. On the one hand, it is incredibly fun to take photos of people as they exist in various environments and scenes. On the other hand, it is quite challenging to take those truly captivating portraits.

Though, with the right practice and patience you can vastly improve your work.

In this article, we share some quick tips for portrait photographers. From small adjustments like your settings to larger, compositional tips, we’ve got something for everyone.

Portrait photographers! Please leave a comment below with additional tips, we’d love to continue building on this.

1. Understand the Settings

The first thing you need to do is understand your camera settings for portrait photography. Almost every DSLR camera has many options including ISO, shutter speed, exposure compensation, aperture, lens, etc. If you are newbie try to check the settings and learn about it. This will help you properly expose and shoot in all kinds of different environments and locations.

2. Shoot in Manual Mode

Get comfortable shooting in manual mode. Shooting in manual mode on location is one of the best choices for photographers. Why?

It works great in all situations. On-location portraits, newborn photography, wedding photography and more. It’s very flexible!

The biggest benefit of shooting in manual mode is that your result is always successive and different. You can experiment much more and truly begin to understand how exposure works.

3. Try Aperture Priority Mode

Take a second and try aperture priority mode. If you don’t know anything about it read this great article on Wikipedia.

Most of the cameras have ‘A’ or ‘Av’ icons. It helps automatically assign a shutter speed, based on the aperture you choose. If you like to take 10-15 shots of one picture to catch the right moment, this could be a great setting to try.

4. Focus on the Eyes

Eyes are the “windows to the soul”. This makes them a great focal point for your portraits. To catch the perfect photo try to focus on the pupil and the white of the eyes. Or focus in between someone’s eyes to really center in on their face.

This will drastically improve your shots and help viewers see the important aspects most clearly.

5. Use the Right Lens

When it comes to portraits, having the right lens for the job is extremely important.

The wider the lens the better for capturing an entire scene and getting better depth of field. For these kinds of portraits photographers typically use 18mm, 22mm, and 35mm lenses. If you want to capture more closely or specifically focus on an aspect of your subject narrower lenses are better. For these kinds of portraits photographers typically use 50mm, 70mm, and 85mm lenses.

6. Create a Background

Creating a scene in the background of your portraits is one of the best ways to make them stand out. Experiment with texture, color, shape, size, location, and more. You’d be surprised how much a background can affect the portrait itself.

With a background you can create interest and add new colors that highlight a specific feature of your subject.

Have some fun with this one and see what you can come up with. Challenge yourself to build a scene around your subject.

7. Keep Learning

The last, but most important piece of advice is to keep learning every single day. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or a professional. Take some time to reflect on past photos and think about what you would like to change and how you can accomplish more next time.

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