The Secret of Beautiful Portraits

Don’t you feel a little jealous when you look at photos taken by someone else and they look incredibly good, while yours are almost always bad? Some amateur photographers feel that everyone can take a great picture except for them. The fact is that taking good photos is not something you just have, but something you learn. Even a basic digital camera can take beautiful portraits if you learn a few simple techniques and keep them in mind each time you take a new photo. Here are some of the most common techniques you can use.

Select the appropriate settings. All cameras come with many features, but a lot of people never use them. For example, most of them have a built-in portrait mode which can really help when photographing faces. To enable this feature, turn the dial button to the head icon on the screen. What this option does is affect the field depth so that you can take a sharp photo of the person’s face while blurring out the other stuff in the background. In order to get an even better image, you can further blur the background. This can be done by zooming the lens of your camera all the way in. Now the subject of your photo will be even more in focus, while the background will be more blurred. Optical zoom is better than digital zoom, so what you need to do is turn off the digital one and use only the optical.

Another thing you can do is adjusting the flash settings. If you have them on automatic mode, your camera will only flash in dark environments. You should use the flash all the time because it softens the background and give a special light to the person’s eyes. Your camera has a setting that allows you to always use flash. Check the manufacturer’s manual to see how you can find it.

Lighting is another very important factor for taking good photos. If you do not have professional studio lights, take pictures outside. Natural light is much better than the artificial one and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a sunny day. If you’re outside, tell the person you are photographing to sit so that the sunlight comes from behind and to one side. If the subject is facing the sun, there will be shadows on the face. If the sun is directly behind the subject, the light will get in the lens of your camera and you will get the best effects. Depending on your possibilities, take the photo early in the morning or in the late afternoon as you will get the best light. The sun is lower upon the sky and you will have a more indirect and warmer light.

Now it’s time to learn a few things about composition and shooting. Your photo should be framed so that it includes only the person’s head and maybe shoulders. The closer you get to the subject, the better the results and photos that include only a small portion of the background are generally neater. Don’t forget to zoom in as much as you can before composing the photo. By now you should be ready to take the picture. Press the button only half way down to enable the auto focus and adjust functions of the camera. Let the person you’re photographing relax and smile in a natural way and take the shot when they’re almost unaware.

The real secret is taking a lot of pictures. This is something even the most experienced photographs do. Then they look through them and pick the best. Remember you’re using a digital camera, so you don’t have to worry about film. In the end you can delete the pictures you don’t like and only keep the ones you are proud of.

Steve Liem

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