5 Tips to Shooting Great Portraits

Photography has been around since the invention of the first camera after painting self potraits were abolished. Today, you will find several professional photographers just by doing research. Some of whom are Tyler Newcomb in Boston, Massachusetts, or even Rocco Basile. So, what exactly does it take to get the perfect portrait, you might ask?

Firstly, playing with eye contact takes a huge role. It is intriguing how much the angle of your subject’s eyes can impact a picture . Most photographs have the model looking directly into the lens– something that can create a genuine significance of connection between a model and those surveying the image. But there are a couple of other things to try:

Looking off camera – have your model focus their concentration on something the outsider cannot see and outside the gaze of your camera. This can initiate a feeling of sincerity and also create a little pique and captivation as the viewer of the shot wonders what they are looking at. This pique is usually drawn about when the subject is showing some kind of desire. Just be conscious that when you have a model looking out of the frame, you can even focus the eye of the viewer of the shot to the corner of the photograph also – taking them away from the point of significance in your shot.

An alternate option would be looking within the image. Alternatively, you could have your model gazing at something (or at someone) within the frame. A child eyeing a ball, a new mother cherishing her new baby, a man looking at football…. When you give your model something to view at that is inside the image you create another point of something to be piqued at and a relationship between it and your first subject.

Furthermore, consider natural lighting coming into play. Don’t have an extravagant studio or want to get more candid portraits? Average lighting in a house or during the midsummer heat in the day is not very flattering on skin; however, once light passes through a window or an open reflection, it is very soft and overly. Consider placing your model next to a small window so the light hits the model at a unique angle (without them looking straight out the window). Without very much effort, you have created stunning and flattering light which studios fail to copy.

If you don’t feel comfortable setting the exposure in a standard way, simply have the model stand in front of a light or the sun with their back facing the light source, then learn to use spot metering. With spot metering, you can plainly have the camera focus on the model’s face to expose it accordingly, and then let the background be slightly overexposed. For some, spot metering may be a better option than a standard setting the exposure for the face.

Lastly, the infamous ‘s’ pose. Every human being who could ever be considered a portrait photographer should by now have the knowledge of the s-curve. Essentially, the model does this pose by capturing the (camera right) side of a model make the structure of an S with the shoulders and hip originating the right edges of the S.

Overview of Taking Great Pictures With Quick and Easy Digital SLR Settings

For a first-time user, the many settings of a dSLR camera can be quite overwhelming. The reason that a dSLR has such a wide variety of settings is so that it can be used in a wide variety of circumstances. These cameras are among the most versatile options for both amateur and professional photographers, which is why they are so commonly seen at so many picture-worthy events. Understanding these settings and the rationale behind their use will allow the photographer to yield the best photograph possible, but there are many conditions that will influence which settings are prioritized and how the remaining settings are used.

The most important thing that a photographer must do is to consider their goal with regard to the photograph they intend to take. There are a number of questions that a photographer must first take into consideration, including:

  • What is the nature of the available light?
  • What is the subject of the photograph?
  • What type of composition will be achieved through this photograph?
  • What is the overall objective of the photograph?

Certainly, there are other considerations that should be taken into account, but if each photographer were to first ask these questions, the answers will help to determine the settings that are ultimately used.

Aperture Settings

It is helpful to think of the aperture setting of the camera as equivalent to the iris of an eye. In both cases, the amount of available light will influence the manner in which the iris and aperture should behave. When there is a great deal of available light, the iris of the eye will become smaller to reduce the amount of light that is allowed in. When it is dark, the iris will dilate to maximize the amount of light being allowed in. The same is true of the aperture of a dSLR camera.

The aperture setting can be used for practical purposes or for creative and artistic purposes. In the case of practicality, the aperture should be set to the low end of the f/stop range for situations in which there is not a great deal of light. For creative purposes, the photographer can use this setting to achieve a shallow depth of field, meaning that only the subject will be sharply in focus. The background in these types of photographs will remain blurred, drawing further attention to the subject.

On the other end of the aperture setting spectrum is the small aperture setting, which is represented by a larger f/stop number. This setting will be used in situations where there is plenty of available light, such as an outdoor photograph taken on a sunny day. This setting can also be used to create a large depth of field, which is preferable when engaging in landscape photography where everything should be in focus.

Shutter Speed

The shutter speed of a camera will determine how quickly the camera sensor records the image being photographed, which should be determined based on the nature of the subject and the composition goals of the photographer. The shutter speed that is employed will also impact the other settings being used, as the faster shutter speeds will allow less light and influence the quality of the photograph. If the shutter speed is the priority setting of the photograph, the other settings will have to be manipulated to compensate for the lack of light, thereby yielding the best photograph.

Photographing subjects in motion requires the use of a faster shutter speed, otherwise the motion will cause the subject to blur. Of course, there are situations in which the photographer will wish to achieve this blur for artistic purposes, in which case a slower shutter speed will be used. Sports photographers use shutter speeds that are sometimes in excess of 1/2000 of a second in order to freeze a subject in motion, while landscape photographers may use a prolonged exposure (up to 30 seconds on most dSLR cameras) to detail the motion of a waterfall.


The ISO setting of a dSLR camera also influences the amount of light that is taken in, though when a high ISO is used there are other consequences as well. When shooting a portrait inside in low light, for example, high ISO can be used to avoid the need for a flash. The issue, however, is that the use of high ISO also results in an image that is not as clean, making the image appear grainy or “noisy.” This setting may be used for artistic purposes, but many photographers simply opt to use the lower end of the ISO spectrum and use the other settings to compensate for a lack of light.

Basic Considerations

Ultimately, photography is a creative endeavor, and it should be viewed as an art form and not as a science. While certain settings are commonly used in certain situations, this does not mean that other combinations cannot be explored. Through the use of a dSLR camera, there are seemingly endless ways to view one single image through limitless perspectives. Viewing photography from a results-oriented point of view is best, though it is true that certain specific settings are viewed as preferable over others in specific circumstances.

In order to arrive at the best possible photographic end result, it is important to first evaluate the goal of the photography. If a photographer has certain ideas with regard to how the composition will look, then the photographer should alter the settings in order to best achieve that composition. If the photographer is simply looking to accurately document an event in the most realistic way possible, then the settings should be altered in order to best achieve that specific goal. Understanding the nature of the settings and how they influence the end result is an important step for the adept use of a dSLR camera.