If you want some quick portrait photography tips to instantly improve your portrait shots you have come to the right place. Below is a list of 5 simple portrait photography tips and tricks that will help you get the most from your portrait photos.
1) Portrait photography tips - use a lens with a focal length of 50mm – 85mm
Number 1 on the list of quick portrait photography tips is to use a lens with a focal length of 50mm – 85mm.
Okay, so some photographers shoot portraits with wider lenses, such as 35mm primes, however to get good portrait shots with lenses of this focal length takes time and practice because you need to nail the composition to ensure the model’s features aren’t distorted.
Using a lens with a focal length of 50mm – 85mm is more forgiving, and it is closer to what the human eye sees. When you use a lens with a 50mm – 85mm focal length you don’t need to nail the composition like you do with wider lenses, which means there is no learning curve.
Since you don’t have to be so precise with the composition lenses with a focal length of 50mm – 85mm are ideal for distortion free candid portraits.
2) Portrait photography tips - use a zoom lens
Number 2 on the list of quick portrait photography tips is to use a zoom lens.
Many photographers argue you should only use a prime lens for portrait photography because they are the sharpest. Whilst prime lenses are a little sharper than zoom lenses the difference is marginal. Besides, you don’t want a lens that is too sharp for portraits because they show up every blemish, pimple and change in skin tone, i.e. they are not flattering.
Shooting portraits with a slightly softer lens overcomes these problems and also makes for a pleasing image, especially when taking portrait shots of women and children.
3) Portrait photography tips - don’t shoot too wide
Number 3 on the list of quick portrait photography tips is don’t shoot too wide.
Many photographers recommend opening the lens as wide as possible to achieve maximum bokeh, i.e. out of focus background, however this is not always a good thing and also not always necessary.
Lenses are at their softest when opened right up, and whilst you need a little softness when taking portraits you don’t want the photo to be too soft. The best compromise is to stop the lens down a stop and take the portrait.
If the model is against a plain background there is no need to throw the background out of focus because there is nothing to take the attention away from the model.
If the portrait shoot is outside, typically where you do need to throw the background out of focus you can stop the lens down a little and move the model further away from the background to achieve the same effect as shooting wide open with the model closer to the background.
4) Portrait photography tips - meter off the face
Number 4 on the list of quick portrait photography tips is to meter off the model’s face.
One of the best portrait photography tips I learned was to meter off the face. It is crucial to get the skin tones spot on when taking portrait shots therefore you need to make sure it is correctly exposed, and the easiest way to do this is to meter off the model’s face.
When taking a meter reading from the subject it is important to use spot metering and make sure enough of the model’s skin fills the frame to get an accurate reading. Once you have the settings put your camera in manual mode, dial in the settings, compose the shot and take the photo.
5) Portrait photography tips - shoot in burst mode
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.