portrait photography tips-eyes
how to photograph people - focus on the eyes

Of the many photography portrait tips articles written for this Digital Photography Tips web site, I have been remiss on discussing the importance of eyes.

When considering how to photograph people, we must remember that our eyes are the windows to our soul. Part of the title is "Focus on the eyes" but that does not refer to just the focus of the lens to get sharp images on our camera sensors.

Photography - Portrait Tips - Focus on the Eyes

It also has to do with perspective, composition and portrait lighting techniques. All of my tradition portrait photography starts with getting sharp focused eyes. There are occasions when we may want to have some blur or lack of sharpness in the eyes, but that is a topic for another day.

In the portrait of the pole vaulter above, I used diagonals to improve the composition. I climbed a small step stool, so that I could shoot down at my subject and have the lanes of the track as my background.

His blue eyes are well it form the sky above and are accentuated because they match his shirt and contrast with the reddish track surface. I had him place the pole on my shoulder which creates another diagonal, a leading line that guides our eye into the portrait.

This portrait is essentially a full body pose and his eyes are relatively small in the composition.

Focus on the eyes for a good portrait

In this portrait of young lady to the left, I placed her eyes near the intersection of those imaginary 1/3 vertical and horizontal lines.

Unlike the photo above, I chose a large camera aperture to achieve a shallow depth of field and created an out-of-focus background.

I chose a camera angle that would include the plants,flowers and landscape rocks to give the background some variety in texture and color.

I emphasized her eyes by holding a large white reflector just out of camera view to the right.

The reflector added fill light to her face, but even more importantly created big beautiful highlights or "catch lights" to her eyes.

When you first meet someone, the first thing you look at is their eyes. I believe it's the first thing you look at when viewing a portrait as well.

Portrait Photography Tip - Focus on the Eyes - 2

photography portrait tips - final comments

These 3 photography portraits are of high school seniors and are not close-up head shots. When we photograph people real close up, the eyse become even more important in the photo.

It can be argued as well that with 3/4 or full length body posing, the eyes become less important as an element in the overall composition.

So remember that you can control the impact and emphasize the eyes have on a portrait by composition lighting and perspective.

One more tip to include in the group of photography portrait tips to use is to have your subject include something in the photo that is important to them. This young lady has a passion for playing tennis, so we included her racket in several of her poses.

This is just one article of many on how to photograph people and I must confess that I am excited to bring you many more and help you elevate your level of photography. Here are many more links to articles involving photography portrait tips here: Portrait Photography Tips.

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