Portrait photography is a tricky but rewarding skill to master. There are many different aspects to a good portrait; you need to capture the uniqueness of your subject, their spirit and personality. Having the right equipment is a good place to start. You’ll want a camera that can deliver excellent results, as well as a lens that’s up to the task. Many photographers prefer a wider-angle 35mm or 50mm, whilst others will choose either an 85mm or zoom lens. Equipment aside, there are a few really great tips that can help you on your way. We’ve outlined 15 of our most useful tips to take stunning portrait photographs, below.
Camera Settings for Portrait Photographs
Let’s start with the camera settings that you’ll need to use. There’s a lot of theory behind how to take a good portrait, but with these simple tips you can instantly start seeing results.
Tip 1: On Aperture
There’s no one hard and fast rule when it comes to aperture. One particular setting isn’t better than another, but there are certain ranges that apply to certain situations. Your first step is to purchase a lens capable of reaching wider apertures, something with f/1.8 as a minimum starting point. From there:
- For a portrait of an individual, shoot at between f/2 and f/4. This will give you a really great background bokeh. You can definitely shoot wider than this, at f/1.4 or f/1.8 for example, but you then run the risk of areas being out of focus on your subject due to the narrow depth of field.
- For shooting multiple people in a portrait, use a smaller aperture such as f/5.6 or f/8 to ensure that everyone in the frame is in sharp focus. Try and keep everyone on roughly the same plane, otherwise if people are closer and further away from the lens, they’ll start slipping out of focus.