Whether you are snapping pictures of your cat, daughter or a glamorous super model the key feature in any portrait is the eyes.
1. Set your Aperture at f/2.0-5.0.
This will give your portrait a nice depth of field with the eyes in focus and falling off around the hair line. If you are shooting in natural light your f-stop will be dictated by how much light you have. Just watch that if you decrease your aperture to < f/2.0 that you are able to get both eyes in focus which is tricky if your subject isn’t straight on.
2. Focus on the middle of the pupil.
It’s very easy to catch focus on the brow or eyelashes. If you can’t grab focus on the eyes, you need more light. Need help trouble shooting light? I’ve got a post about that!
3. Ask your subject to tilt their head down.
This makes the eyes look bigger and is a more flattering angle than an up-the-nose angle. If you can see nose hair, you need to find a better angle. Subjects usually respond to a little direction like, “Tilt your chin down”. Then, guide them into the most flattering position for their face.
4. Shoot from above.
Again this makes eyes look bigger and faces look thinner. If your subject is taller than you, find a curb or a step. Also, I suggest that you head to IKEA and grab a small step stool for $10. I keep one in the back of my truck, so I always have it on hand for shoots.
5. Light the face with soft, even light.
Harsh light is bad. Shadows are worse. Dappled light is the worst. So, give your subject some lovely soft, even light. They will look better and you won’t have to try to correct your light in post. If you are shooting outside, try to shoot either in the morning or in the late afternoon when the light is soft. If you have some cloud cover then you might be able to shoot anytime as long as there is enough light.
One thing you should purchase is a collapsible reflector. I use a 22″ circular 5 -in-1 reflector. It’s reversible covers give you the option to reflect with silver, gold, white or block light with black. Brand isn’t really important just go to any photography store and buy the cheapest one. If you are financially challenged at the moment, go to your local craft store and buy two large foam core boards in white for about $2. These work great as reflectors.
If you have any tips or questions, head to the comments!