portrait photography

13 steps to set the best portrait photography settings

Portrait photography settings

As you know, there are a lot of settings available for improving your portrait. It’s not easy to make your portrait photography appear clear and perfect. There is many steps to take to get the settings right for the best portrait photography.

Portrait photography settings

The settings of the portrait photography expose the difference between the amateur and professional portrait’s photographers. We will be talking about some steps you can take to maximize your setting options in portrait photography.

Portrait photography settings‬

1. The lens

A great tip is to position the lens so it takes the wider angle of view, and don’t try to capture more subjects from the surroundings, you can choose around 18mm, and 70mm for a telephoto lens, this would be making the background out of focus, so you could make the person under scene better.

2. Reflector

For making your portrait appears with neutral brightness and clearer look, you need to use reflector. This can be similar to using windows indoors or light of the sun outdoors or any other lights outdoors to use. There is some shadows you do not want in your portrait, so with a reflector, you can get rid of them. For a cloudy day, that would be great time for taking the portrait, because the cloud is a big reflector for your portrait.

3. Focus

The focus is the main thing in portrait photography settings and there are two ways of focusing, the focus and the de-focus, Focus is to focus the person himself so you could make the portrait more obvious on the person, so he/she could be under seen well. Nevertheless, sometimes maybe a subject is better to be focused in the portrait, when it is being more important, which you could focus on the subject of a watch or shoes, and make the person stand a few feet away. You can also, make the AF (auto focus) focus on the eye or the head. For this you will position your subject off center.

Portrait photography settings‬

4. ISO

Change the ISO to make a sharp photo, and to avoid mistakes, such as a person blinking or without his perfect smile. You can change your ISO100 to ISO400 which will increase the shutter speed. But at night or indoors with low light, use ISO800, ISO1600, ISO3200.

5. Modest time

Try to choose your place and weather for your portrait, For instance, keep your subject warm because when he feels warm, he will give you the best smile. But keeping the same subject in cold weather, you may find his nose red or his ears frostbitten with a forced smile.

6. Flash

The flash is one of the most important things in portrait photography settings. First you can use a little fill flash to improve your portrait, so when your camera exposes the background, your flash will light up your subject. While using the flash in the sunlight, it can sometimes make some problems of shadows across the faces and may burn out highlights. And for sure, you have to use the flash in the low light, especially when you photograph outdoors at night.

7. Shutter speed settings

You have to make sure that your shutter speed is more than your effective focal lens, like if you use 400mm of the focal lens, you should use 1/500 sec shutter speed or faster, You could use a little bit slower shutter speed when using a wide-angle lens, like 1/20 sec for an 18mm focal lens.

8. Fill the frame

You may zoom on the face, eye or mouth, so you could fill your portrait by filling the frame, which will make good details appear better.

9. Exposure

For some low light photos, you need to use exposure to brighten your subject’s face slightly. If you don’t have enough lights on your subject’s face in the portrait, or maybe your subject’s skin is a bit darker you simply dial it to -1. There is Overexposed, it’s not much of a usable technique, but it’s good for the portrait photography settings, so you could make it more clean and have a simple look.

Portrait photography settings‬

10. Compositions

It is the best way to attract the viewer’s attention to the most beautiful details. Instead of filling the frame, you may zoom on your subject, and position your subject to one side of the frame to capture a very depth photo with the field. It’s also a good way to change the photo from 2D to 3D photo, like to make the subject pop out from the frame.

11. Aperture/F-Stop

This is two settings related to each other, which if you increase the aperture, then the f-stop will be low, then you will have shallower depth of field. If you decrease the aperture, the f-stop will be increased, so you will have a deeper depth of field. The better setting is to use wide aperture, like to make f/2.8-f/5.6. That’s because you need the background not to interfere with the subject, like when you can make a good headshot by having the wide aperture restrict the depth and blur the background.

12. Adjust the light for eyes

For a good Portrait photography settings you will need to make a fixed deep-set eye. For this, you can lower the lights a little so they throw light under the face, so that you can fix the problem of the deep shadows in the eyes.


13. DSLR

If you using a DSLR mode, it can make your picture better. If you don’t have it, it’s not a big deal. You can always get a good photo using the above steps, because in the DSLR the camera chooses to make the appropriate shutter speed to expose the image correctly, and lets the photographer choose the f-stop and the ISO. That’s why we can let the camera do all the hard work and let the person do some specific work, which is better if you got moderate gears. But note that the camera may not give you the better shutter speed that you need. You can just get rid of that by using the exposure compensation setting. But also that’s better than adjusting all the setting all over every time you change the location.

This is not everything available in the Portrait photography settings, but these are the most important settings, so enjoy them.

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