Portrait Photography Tips:
Focus On The Eyes And Use
Wide Aperture

Portraiture: Focus On The Eyes And Use Wide Aperture


Portrait photography is an endlessly artistic talent that can tell hundreds of stories with a single click of a camera.

But with terms such as aperture and portraiture, the art of photography can get a little confusing for beginners. Ideally, mastering and sharing how to capture portraits with the masses is easy. However, learning how to catch the emotion and character of the subject can be a tricky process. 

Luckily there are hundreds of tools, techniques, and resources for learning how to photograph portraits. For a few excellent tips to get started, follow this guide to artistic expression through portrait photography.


What is a Portrait Photo?

A portrait photograph combines art and technique to capture the essence of the project’s subject.

In portrait photography, a photographer captures the subject’s character by manipulating lighting, backgrounds, angles, and camera settings to get the perfect shot. The art behind a portrait photo shines through by way of emotional intimacy and storytelling.

As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.


What is Portraiture?

Portraiture, simply put, is the act of capturing a portrait. This term applies broadly to art and photography and describes the artistry and technicality of creating portraits.


How to Photograph Portraits

Like any activity, photography comes with a decent learning curve for newcomers. While photography might look as simple as picking up a camera or opening an app on a mobile phone and snapping a pic, a lot of technique and artistic expression goes into taking professional photos.

Mastering the art of photographing portraits might seem intimidating and will undoubtedly take some serious practice. Still, there are several tips and tricks to help you on your way to greatness. Once you get a handle on these excellent starter tips, your artistic freedom and capabilities are endless.

Using the Right Camera

Cameras and lenses can be a hefty investment. There is no need to feel the pressure of owning the most expensive camera with the greatest technological advancements right off the bat.

Start with a logical camera choice that best fits your current needs, expertise, and budget. Then, learn how to best manipulate techniques with what you got. 

Most cameras will be ideal for portrait photography. One aspect to look for when choosing the right piece of equipment for you is a camera with a decent digital single-lens reflex, or DSLR. A good DSLR camera delivers better control over portrait-specific settings. Experimenting with these settings helps you expand your talent and performance down the road.

Aside from getting to know your camera, you want to become familiar with your lenses. Lenses are individualistic tools that can dramatically change the outcome of your portrait. When considering lenses, think about your artistic angle. If you want your location or props to be visually significant, go for a wide-angle lens. If you want your subject to be the only visually attractive aspect, reach for a macro lens.

Here is a list of different lenses:
Wide Angle
Short Telephoto
Medium Telephoto
Super Telephoto
Fish Eye

Finding the Right Location

Location. Location. Location.

Your portrait’s location has a significant influence on the artistic outcome of your shoot. You will face different challenges depending on the setting. Preparation and foreshadowing events are vital to getting a good shot.

If you go with an outdoor setting, you need to plan ahead for ideal weather, crowds, environmental conditions, and time of day. The best times of day for avoiding harsh lighting in outdoor portraits are mornings and late afternoons. For indoor shoots, you want to pre-plan lighting, backdrops, poses, and props.

Prepare Your Subject

No matter how good the photographer is, a portrait won’t come out well if the subject is not feeling comfortable and confident. Many people find photoshoots stressful and awkward. A photographer’s first job is to make a fun, inviting, and stress-free environment.

Here are some stress-relieving ideas:
Small talk.
Be open about your ideas, and take suggestions from the subject.
Encourage the subject to forget a camera is following them.
Be patient.
When working with children, providing distractions helps make the subject feel more comfortable in front of the camera.
Set up a meet-and-greet before the shoot to become familiar with the subject.
Understand the subject’s boundaries and adapt your ideas to them. Do not force any poses or artistic expressions with which the subject is not comfortable.


Lighting is an excellent tool of manipulation for portraiture. With the correct use of lighting, the artistic expression of any photo comes to life. When preparing for a portrait shot, go over what you want your image to represent and alter your lighting to match that emotion.

When deciding on lighting techniques, revisiting location choices is a smart move. Considering the surrounding elements of your location helps you better prepare for any light sources and tools you will need to get the perfect shot. If you are outdoors, you need to take the environment and placement of the sun into account. With indoor locations, lighting is much easier to manipulate.

An efficient tip to keep in mind when working on lighting is that light is directional. If you want a more ominous feeling, placing the subject partially in front of the light source gives off a shadowy effect. For a fully lit portrait, place the subject directly facing the light source. 

Understanding flash is another key to using lighting. It might not be necessary in every portrait, but in some cases, flash can enhance the outcome of a photo. When outdoors during the day, flash can sometimes be useful when trying to even out brightness and get rid of overexposure. Flash can also add drama to portraits set in darker locations. 


Wrap Up

With practice and a few foundational techniques, every aspiring photographer will know how to photograph portraits in no time. With a talent that welcomes a high volume of artistic expression, the possibilities of your portrait shots are truly endless. 

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