Photography Tutorials and Articles

Portrait Photography Routine

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

Prepration for Portrait Photography step by step
Prepration for Portrait Photography step by step

Light

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

An overcast day light is the best light for portrait photography
An overcast day light is the best light for portrait photography

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

Be creative in Midday Strong light. Just by adding the sunglasses to this photo, I used the harshness of the midday light to tell a story.
Be creative in Midday Strong light. Just by adding the sunglasses to this photo, I used the harshness of the midday light to tell a story.

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.

Light Modifiers

A light Modifier (Flash or Light Disc) is an asset for Portrait Photography.
A light Modifier (Flash or Light Disc) is an asset for Portrait Photography.

Lens Selection

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:

Lens Focal Length

Choosing Correct Focal Length

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

I used a 24mm wide angle lens in this photo. Notice how the nose looks longer and the background looks farther away.
I used a 24mm wide angle lens in this photo. Notice how the nose looks longer and the background looks farther away.

Telephoto

In this picture I used a 105mm lens. Notice that the shape of the head, nose and the background are more pleasing.
In this picture I used a 105mm lens. Notice that the shape of the head, nose and the background are more pleasing.

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

Notice how head looks bigger than the feet. This effect can be very artistic, if used correctly.
Notice how head looks bigger than the feet. This effect can be very artistic, if used correctly.

Comparing Photos

Notice the distortion in wide angle shot compare to the telephoto image.
Notice the distortion in wide angle shot compare to the telephoto image.

Camera Settings

Shutter Speed

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.

ISO

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

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

The shutter speed was not fast enough, which resulted a blurry photo
The shutter speed was not fast enough, which resulted a blurry photo

Low Aperture

Using low f-stop makes the background and foreground soft
Using low f-stop makes the background and foreground soft

Low Aperture

Telephotolens and low f-stop create best effect for portraitures
Telephotolens and low f-stop create best effect for portraitures

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