4 Portrait Photography Tips

Portrait photography is the art of taking pictures of people. Now whether you do this for family and friends, or just because you like people pictures, you may find these tips helpful in making your portrait photos more polished and professional looking.

1. Clear the clutter. When you take a person’s portrait, you want the picture to focus primarily on that person. If you have a lot of clutter behind or around them, it detracts from the person in the picture. So before you shoot, try moving the person to a place where there is little to nothing else around. The middle of a room is an easy option, as is having them stand against a blank wall.

2. Focus on their eyes. Regardless of what else might be in the picture, and regardless of whether anything else is in focus or not… if you have a person’s eyes in focus in a portrait photo, it always has much more impact and is considered a better picture overall. The old saying about eyes being a window to the soul actually applies in portrait photography, so if the person’s eyes are clear and focused well, the picture will look much better.

3. Try to blur the background. If you have a point and shoot camera, you probably have a control setting dial on the camera that will help with this. Turn the control dial to portrait mode – this is usually indicated by a small icon that looks like a person’s head. If you use a DSLR, or you shoot in manual or semi-manual mode with your camera, use a larger aperture setting. This is indicated by smaller numbers such as 5.6, 3.5 and 2.8. In fact, those three aperture settings are often the best ones to use when taking portrait photos, because those tend to blur the background best. A 2.8 aperture setting will give you a much more blurry background than 5.6 will, but 5.6 still does fairly nicely if the background is not too close to the person you’re taking a picture of.

4. Get Closer. Yes, closer to the person you’re taking a picture of. It’s OK to just have a picture of the person’s head and shoulders… it’s even OK to take a picture of just their face with part of the head missing. The face and eyes of a person is where most of their expression is, so leaving out most of the body in a portrait photograph will often produce much better results.

These four tips are great starting places for creating much stronger, more appealing portrait photos. So go out and try them yourself now, and you might be surprised at how much better your people pictures look.