Portrait Photography: Aperture, Exposure, Autofocus, Expression, and Flash

portrait photographyThese are the five things that we will cover in this article. Often than not, when doing portrait photography, one just need an article that will help to kick-start the picture-taking. There’s no need to discuss in depth on the type of lenses and cameras that are going to cost you a fortune. What you need right now is to learn the technique and make sure that you are able to enjoy the activity.

Of course, you still need a camera and the lens

It’s mandatory. At least a good body camera with a good sensor and a reliable zoom lens (prime lens is also great if it fits you). Make sure that you are comfortable with zooming and out and familiar with the settings of your camera.

1. Exposure

With exposure setting, you’ll be able to override the brightness and the amount of light your camera is receiving. Although it automatically decides how much light should get in and how ‘bright’ the pictures should look like, it takes into consideration the majority of the frame.

An example is when you want to shoot something against the sun or bright background, subjects in front of it will go dark. With a DSLR camera, you can set the exposure to +1 to increase the brightness of the pictures, or higher as you need it to be.

2. Aperture

If your subject is facing straight at you, the narrow aperture is a good choice to get that nice bokeh of the background. But in portrait, always remember that you also take different angles of your subject’s face, which means there’s also a side look and narrow aperture will make the pictures turn out weird.

Use a wide aperture to prevent blurring one side of the face and to get a clear, crisp shot of your client.

3. Autofocus

Portrait photography means working with your client in close-range. This makes focusing a very important part of the job. Don’t focus on the wrong spot of the face; focus on the forehead, and you’ll blue the nose, focus on the nose, and you’ll blur the eyes.

Pinpoint single AF focus on the eye, half press the shutter and reposition yourself to finish the shot.

4. Expression

No matter how good you are at taking pictures, what really matters the most is the subject you are shooting. Working as a portrait photographer means that you will be meeting people for the first time and you need to them to own the camera. They have to be able to express themselves.

Not all people like being in front of a camera, admit that. Which means that you need to make them at least feel comfortable in front of you. Building rapport is an important part of the job. Break the ice and make the session enjoyable is the trick. Ask general questions and talk about things like friends. Your client won’t be too hesitant in posing and acting in front of you anymore!

5. Flash and reflectors

There are lots of functions you can use flash for. Not just lighting up the dark, fill flash is also a technique that you use when shadows are formed on the face of the subject. This is usually done when the sun is shining too bright and creates silhouettes, or when the weather is not bright enough to light up the client.

Reflectors are another great thing. By reflecting the sunlight back to the face of the client, you’ll get natural light without having to flash annoyingly on the client.

Portrait Photography Tips

portrait photography tipsAre you fascinated with being a photographer? Would you like to improve on your photography? Then here are the basic photography and portrait tips that will enable you attain solid portraits. It is also important to chip in your ideas and visions to obtain the best portraits.


It is imperative to make the subject relaxed. Make the focus the feel natural anterior to the camera. It is important to have genuine emotions brought out rather than cheesy postured smiles. The pictures should be honest representations of the clients. Always recall that the images with real expressions connect to the viewer. It is important to make the subject get satisfied with the results by going for a facial angle and a pose they like best. Make sure the subject is placed in the most flattering posture.


Always ensure there is depth in the portrait composition. When taking the photographs the images produced are often 2-dimensional. The image should then be made to appear 3-D and also the focus should be made to pop out of the frame. The three dimensions of the image talk of the background, middle ground, and foreground, and the middle ground are essential in gaining the necessary depth. Composing is important even in cake smash photography.


Light is usually directional. Therefore, to attain the best lighting, make sure the subject looks towards the light source. In the open fields, the source of light often comes from above the head (overhead). In such a case the subjects should be made to tip slightly facing upwards in the direction of the source of the light. Avoid over divulging the portrait by making it too bright. Instead, give the picture a simple and clean look. If you will be shooting using the natural light from the sun, it is imperative to put into consideration the time of the day and the course of the sun in relation to where and how you would like your subject to pose. It has been established that late afternoon and early morning are the suitable times for a natural light photo. Avoid shooting during midday when the shadows and the sunlight are harshest. Overcast weather can also offer an excellent opportunity for a picture with lighting and softer shadows that remain consistent over quite a long period.

Settings of the camera

The appearance and tonality of the skin of the subject performs a major part in the success of the resultant portrait. The expressions can be deceiving to the inexperienced eye and also the auto white balance of the camera can also be tricked by environmental factors. People are often carried away with settings and gear. They are fascinated in seeing a creative portrait rather than a technically ideal portrait. It is, therefore, advisable to take a single lens and on the camera body on a shoot. It is also imperative to choose the clothing that compliments the background colors of the surroundings or the skin makes the subject stand out.

Apart from the four top tips, it is also important to consider the lens used. An appropriate focal length should be selected to prevent falsifying the subject’s head.