Illustration for article titled Digital Portrait Photography - Shooting the Person is Key

There are a few general elements of digital portrait photography that are absolutely key - the first one being to focus on the person you are photographing.
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There are different kinds of portraits, such as a close-up shot, or a shot involving the upper body.

However, photographs can also be taken with the surrounding background included. When it comes to digital portrait photography that involves upper body shots, the most commonly used lens is a 90mm, fixed telephoto lens. These are often the kinds of photographs that are often taken at children’s schools and involve the subject being in the foreground and the background slightly muted.

To capture a really good portrait you need to have your subject looking as natural as possible. Many photographers often achieve this by taking an initial shot, followed by a couple of successive shots - one of which is bound to have caught the subject in a more natural pose. When a close up portrait is intended, it is usual to line the subject up so they are not looking directly at the camera, but slightly to one side.

An important aspect of all photographs, whether they are digital portrait photographs or not, is the element of light. For a photograph that focuses on the head and shoulders, the angle of the light can vastly alter the finished portrait. If the light is coming in from the side or from above, small facial details will be illuminated and accented: more flattering photographs are best obtained with plenty of diffused light, or when light is far more muted.

Reducing areas of the face that the subject prefers not to be highlighted is a skill the portrait photographer soon develops: they achieve this through the use of a lens that is at least 90mm. Using a wide aperture you can ensure that the person you are photographing appears to be brighter in the foreground of the picture, with the background fading slightly into the background through being slightly out of focus.

Finally, when you are involved in close-up digital portrait photography, respect your subject’s personal space. People hate to feel intimidated and, even though you may be taking a close-up portrait, you still need your subject to feel comfortable in your presence.

Most professional photographers would still advise getting as close as possible rather than using a zoom lens. It might work for a lot of photographers, especially if their subjects are professional models but, in the vast majority of cases, the subject will be much more at ease if you just step back a little and give your subject some space.

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