Getting Ready for Portrait Photography
Portrait Photography needs some preparation. In the last post I discussed the Landscape Photography Preparation, and in this article I am going to talk about Portrait Photography. These tips are just guidelines, which will help you to plan for your Portrait Photography session faster and easier.
I can categorize these guidelines into three major topics, Light, Lens Selection, and Camera Settings, so let’s get started!
Portrait Photography Tips
In general, Photographers prefer to use a soft and diffused light for Portrait photography. That is why overcast days are perfect for outdoor portrait shooting. The diffused soft light provides an even brightness to the skin, which is very appealing.
Soft Light Portrait
What if there is an hard light
There is no solid rule of not using the harsh light. You can use the hard midday light but use your creativity and add some elements to make the photo more interesting.
Mid Day Harsh Light
Another option is to use some sort of Fill Light. Using a Light modifier, such as Light Disc or Flash can save lots of post processing time.
Generally portrait photographers prefer Telephoto lenses for portraiture ( any focal length From 50mm and higher). You can read more about Lens Focal Length in these series of articles:
Why Not Using Wide Angles
No one said that you should not use a wide angle lens for portraitures, but Wide angles distort the image. When using a wide angle for portrait, you should be aware of the distortion. Here are samples from a wide angle and a telephoto lens. Notice the distortion on the face, and background
Wide Angle Lens
When you are aware of the wide angle lens distortion effect, you can use this effect to create more artistic photos. The height and angle of the camera are very important. This photo is a good sample.
Creative Use of Wide Angle Lens
In Portrait Photography, usually the subject is steady, therefore there is no need for fast shutter speed. I found out that a shutter speed around 1/90sec is perfect in many types of portraiture. There are times that you need faster shutter speed, such as taking photos of children or pets. Overall the faster Shutter speed is not required for portraiture.
As I mentioned in the Landscape Photography Routine post, keeping the ISO as low as possible makes the images sharper. Especially in portrait photography low ISO can provide more data. I usually try to keep the ISO around 200 to 400, if the light is enough.
Aperture plays the main rule in portraiture photography. Generally speaking, we want our main subject sharp and clear and the background and foreground soft and out of focus ( Shallow Depth Of Field). To achieve this effect we need to use lower f stop ( f3.5 or lower).
If you are shooting in Aperture Priority (A or AV), the camera will set the shutter speed automatically. Whether you shoot in Aperture Priority or fully Manual, keep an eye on the shutter speed, especially if you’re hand holding the camera. If the shutter speed is not fast enough, try to increase the ISO to set the exposure.
Tripod or Monopod
I strongly suggest to use a tripod or a monopod to make steady shots. If your camera body or lens is equipped with image stabilizer, definitely activate the image stabilizer, when you are hand holding the camera. With longer focal length (telephoto) lenses, it is very important to keep the camera steady.
In Digital Photography Bootcamp I discuss many different techniques for Portrait Photography and composition.
That is all for now. We love to hear from you. Let us know if you have any questions, feel free to send us your questions and we will be more than happy to answer them. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more Free Tutorials and Tips.
Ted and the Omnilargess Team
Slow Shutter Speed