portrait photography tipsTaking Portraits seems like a piece of cake when you see the results. But a lot of hard work and knowledge goes into taking a great photo.

So in this blog post we want to teach you some of the basics about the settings and so forth that you can use to make the most of your next portrait photo session

When Should I use Exposure Compensation?

Skin tones are often under exposed when shooting a portrait, so sometimes you have to consider exposure compensation especially when shooting in aperture mode.

This will help to brighten up your skin tones and make your portraits appear more natural.

The most common setting we have found that works is to add +1 exposure compensation as a default, and then work from there. It is not always perfect, but should give you a great starting point.

What Aperture Setting Should I Use?

Portraits work best when the background is mostly out of focus. After all we are focusing on the subject, right?

So with this in mind, the best settings for a portrait are a small aperture setting (ie. wide aperture) like an f/2.8-f/5.6. Larger than this and you will risk having too much of the background in focus.

To make your life even easier (presuming you are using the exposure setting recommended above) we suggest using Aperture Priority mode so that the camera will select the optimal shutter speed for the shot too.

But what about Shutter speed?

To avoid camera shake, you want to try to get a shutter speed less than 1/30th of a second as a ball park figure.

But you also have to take into account your focal length, so if you are using a 200mm try to use a 1/250 sec shutter speed or faster.

Again, if you are using wider angle lenses then you can also get away with a lot lower speed like 1/20th or less.

Such knowledge comes with experience.

Should I change the ISO setting?

Because your subjects will often not be sitting still or even just blinking, it is best to get the fastest shutter speed possible. And this can mean changing your ISO setting to a higher value as well.

So by moving your ISO setting to say an ISO 100-400 range, you can increase shutter speed and decrease the blur that might occur when the subject moves too much.

This is certainly not helped by the make that many portrait shots are done handheld and not on a tripod, so we have an even great reason to decrease camera shake.

If you are working in low light conditions you might need to increase your ISO settings to  a higher value yet like 800, 1600 or even 3200. 
A little bit of photo grain is way better than a blurry image in any situation.

What kind of lens should I use?

Lens choice plays a major role in portrait photos so don’t forget this when you are heading to your next portrait photo shoot.
Wide angle can be great if you want to get more than your subject in frame. Whereas telephoto lenses are better for focusing on your subject more and ignoring the background. It all depends on the kind of effect you are going for.

They also play a role in the depth of field, so keep that in mind as well.

I hoep these tips have helped you get an idea of what you need to keep in mind for your next photo shoot. If you have any questions feel free to leave a  comment or get in touch.