Focus-on-Foto-Fun “People and Portraits”

Theme Number Eleven: “People and Portraits”

When photographing people, whether it’s a family group, a wedding, or even when doing travel photography, it’s important to get your shot quickly. People are busy, and so are we, as photographers, so let’s get the shot done and everyone can be on their way.

Having said that, it’s also important to get your best composition. The lighting is important, so if using natural light, make sure to note the time of day and direction of the sun. Then, either have your subject move so the light is complementary, or move yourself around to where it is lighting the people in a complementary way – from the side, for instance. To avoid any deep shadows on the face, they might turn their head to the side, or straight at you, or you could choose to shoot from a different angle, or move to a shady location when conditions are too bright.

What if you’re shooting indoors? If possible, move the subject near a window where natural light is entering the room. If that’s not possible, then it’s important to make sure the aperture of the camera is as wide open as possible, and also use a high shutter speed. This may require a high ISO setting also to ensure there’s enough exposure to light the subject up and not leave the shadows too grainy from low light indoors. A wide open aperture will also keep the background out of focus, so all attention is on the subject.

Try different angles – get down on a knee, or even on the ground if you’re photographing children – and make sure there is some connection between you and your subjects. Many people are camera shy and may have difficulty posing in front of your lens for any length of time. What you want to be able to do is to show them at their best, so finding a way to help them feel comfortable is worth the effort while also letting them show their authentic self in a way that will bring out their inner beauty, whether they believe they have any or not.

The most critical part of taking photographs of people, whether it’s in a studio or in a foreign country and culture, is to make sure you have a sharp focus on the eyes. Our attention, when looking at any photograph, will always be directed to the eyes first. If the eyes are in focus, the viewer will also be able to connect with your subject for the eyes are the window to the soul. Once that is accomplished, then be certain to look around the scene to make sure there is nothing in the composition that is distracting, such as a cluttered background, or bright lights.

We’ll practice together on this one. As I do my best to take more “People and Portraits” photographs, I’ll be learning right along beside you, so be sure to post your photographs to the Focus-on-Foto-Fun page on FB at, and share your tips for getting better portraits and people shots. Remember to tag your posts with #focusonfotofun and #peopleandportraits. When posting to IG, please tag me too, @georgiamichalicek so I’m sure to see your photos there.

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