Photographing People

Some thoughts about taking a photographic portrait:


  • ISO: an ideal ISO is 100 to minimise signal noise
  • SHUTTER: try around 1/100th of a second
    Do not go slower than 1/80th of a second when photographing people or they will be blurry with motion blur!
  • APERTURE: you may want a shallow depth of field in order to draw attention to your subject
  • If the exposure is too dark, change the lighting conditions! Move somewhere with more light or a time of day with more light. But be wary of direct sunlight – too harsh.

And don’t forget to check that the quality is set to RAW!


I like these points:

And CameraSim has a fun interactive on framing


Position the camera a little above the subjects eye line. If they are taller than you, ask the subject to sit on a chair.  No one wants to see what’s up your nose.



Don’t let the background compete with or overwhelm your subject.

A plain background may be the simplest solution.

You can also use the camera depth of field to blur the background and keep the focus on the face.

Here are some good tips:–photo-970

And here


You can achieve excellent results using natural lighting

When working with natural light, direct your subject to turn in relation to the light:


Note Lindsay Adler’s tip in the video above to have your subject sit on the floor so that the light from the window falls from above and creates more flattering shadows.

Pay attention to the nose! What is the shadow doing? Diffuse light will create a softer shadow.

Pay special attention to the shadow of the nose!

Avoid hard and poorly placed nose shadows.

more info at

Avoid harsh overhead sunlight – it will cast hard deep shadows in the eyes.

I’ve seen the Light…another food photography post


Notice also the presence of CATCHLIGHTS in your subject’s eyes. These are the reflective highlights in the eyes. Without them the portrait can look lifeless.


Make sure the eyes are in focus! You should be able to see every eyelash!



5 minute Lynda Video “Taking a quick portrait and directing a subject”


Peter Hurley has an excellent series of video tutorials on photographing people:



See also:

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