THE 3 ESSENTIALS
PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHYCHEAT SHEET
Getting the eyes of yourmain subject in focus ispractically essential inmost traditionalportraiture. You can getaway with having a lot ofthe rest of the image out
of focus, but if the eyes are blurry, you areusually going to have a hard time.
If you can only get one eye in focus due tousing a narrow depth of field, make sure itis the eye closest to the camera.
One of the mostcommon issues withportrait photographs isthat there are harshshadows across the faceof the subject. This canbe caused by harsh
sunlight or harsh artificial light (often from abuilt-in-flash) among other sources (and ifthat was the intention of the photographer,then that is fine). Think about using difusersand reflectors to soften the light andshadows.
Even in portraitphotography,backgrounds are ofhuge importance.Sometimes you mightbe forced to use a plainbackground (head shots
for an actor for example), but if you haveany leeway, then get creative. Indoor, thatmight mean getting your subject in front ofsomething interesting (curtains, material,textured walls or a contextual backgroundfor environmental portraits for example)and outdoors it can be anything from abrick wall to a stunning sunset.
These are very general guidelines and will vary depending on your specific shootingconditions and your own style.
Traditionally, portrait photographers shoot with a wide aperture (f1.8to f5.6) to throw the background out of focus and isolate the subject.
There is no hard and fast rule, but lower ISO settings (ISO 100 to ISO400) are usually preferred to avoid noise.
Most often you will want to avoid any blur from motion. That meansa shutter speed faster than the focal length of your lens. If you areshooting with a 50mm for example, then 1/50th second would bethe slowest shutter speed to use. (1/80th sec for 80mm etc)