1. Use a lens that has a wide aperture like a 1.2, 1.4, 1.8. The 50mm 1.8 is only $100, and it is a terrific lens! My whole body of work is done with a 50mm 1.8 and a Canon Rebel XS. So with that 1.6 crop factor it becomes an 80mm lens that is a perfect perspective to take portraits!
2. Photograph in the shaded areas with even light hitting your subjects face. Face your light source while in the shade.
3. Focus on the eyes. If your aperture is wide open you will need to keep the focus on the eyes. The rest of the face will be slightly out of focus. You need to be closer to your subject to get this effect, pretty much just their head.
4. If you want to photograph your subject from head to toe carefully choose your aperture setting to allow your subject to be totally in focus. If you are still shooting wide open at a 2.8 for instance, your depth of field is too shallow to have your subject in full focus. Close down your aperture to about a 5.6, don’t take your shutter speed lower than 1/125 because it will cause blur, increase your ISO to 200 and see if you can bring enough light in to get a great shot. This is assuming you are shooting in shade or at dusk or both. These settings are suggestions to get you to understand what I am saying, so play around with different combination’s to find out what works best.
5. Shoot in manual mode. I have read so many articles that say to rely on AV/ aperture priority and that is ok for the 1st month as you get to know your camera. If you want quality photographs you really have to go for it and learn manual.
6. Be sure there is light reflecting in your subject’s eyes. You can achieve this even in the shade. Always turn your subject toward the light source to make this happen.
7. Give your subject something to hold, I often use flowers with children, even boys look adorable with flowers. I have used seashells when shooting at the beach.
8. Be aware of what is in your background. I try to have light and shade in my background and to keep it very simple, so the subject is the focus. I also find when shooting outdoors my favorite portraits end up being the ones that have an endless background, rather than a bush, or a wall.
9. Have some input on how your subject will dress for the picture. I give a lot of input on wardrobe for family portraits and for my child photography. Remember you are the artist creating your vision, so clothing and props matter.
10. Buy Photoshop Elements and learn to install actions that help you edit your pictures. I use PSE 8 and I have bought Florabella actions and Child’s Play. Lucky for me these action creators have made their actions compatible with Photo Shop Elements, and some actions only work with the professional version of Photoshop. Editing and actions has taken my pictures to a new level. Since I shoot in the shade I rely on the actions to lighten and brighten my images and they do such a great job!
Kathleen Pace – http://www.amelyajaynephotography.com
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