Skip to content
Avoiding Common Mistakes when Photographing People

Avoiding Common Mistakes when Photographing People

Here is a quick list of some of the top mistakes newbies make when photographing people. Whether you are shooting posed portraits for special occasions, or candid photos of your kids, we have some helpful tips for some of the common and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1 Shooting Wide
If you want to flatter your subject make sure you use the right lens for the job. A wide angle will distort things, and force you to get really close to people leaving the person's face looking stretched and overly large. It's far more flattering to shoot from a little further away and use a longer lens to keep the subject's facial features in proportion. Something around 70-85mm like the Canon RF 50mm F/1.8 STM Full Frame Lens from, is often regarded as a good choice for head and shoulders shot.


Mistake #2 Distracting Background
If the background is busy or cluttered it may distract from your subject. But you also need to consider contrast, brightness, color and sharpness of the background. For example, if you put your subject in the shade because the light is less harsh, but the background is brightly lit, it will draw more attention than the person. To make sure your subject is sharp and the background slightly out of focus, get the subject away from the background by having the person to move forward at least six feet or more.

Mistake #3 Shooting from Wrong Angle
For people photography the most common camera angle is just slightly above eye level. If you shoot from lower than that you will be looking up their nose, and making them look down. That can cause a double chin and is not flattering. Shooting too high can make the person look small, or emphasize a receding hairline.

Mistake #4 Harsh Lighting
Most often soft light is better, and more flattering. Putting people into direct sun, or using a direct flash with no light modifiers like the Vivitar Flash Diffuser from can make them squint, enhances skin imperfections like blemishes and wrinkles, and creates overly deep shadows with no detail.


Mistake #5 Improper Focus
When photographing people, you always want to strive to focus on their eyes. Set your focus to a single point and lock it on their eyes. If one eye is closer to the camera than the other, focus on the one nearer to you.

Mistake #6 Camera Shake Blur
Make sure you use a shutter speed that is fast enough to freeze the image and not cause camera shake if you are hand holding the camera. Ideally, use a tripod if you can.


Mistake #7 Too Much Flash
If you need to use flash make sure you don't overdo it. Too much flash will make the person you are photographing look flat. One simple thing you can do is to set your Flash Compensation to -2/3 to underexpose the flash a bit.

Mistake #8 Wrong Time of Day
When shooting outside, do so during the Golden Hour. This is the time right before sunset and after sunrise where the sun is low on the horizon and the light is softer.  

Mistake #9 Redeye
Anti-redeye flash settings that fire a pre-flash can help by closing your subject’s irises down so that less light enters their eyes and bounces back, or simply move the flash away from the lens. By avoiding these 9 photography mistakes and using the tips provided, you will be on your way to taking better images of your family and friends with your digital camera.
Previous article Couple Photoshoot Ideas this Holiday Season

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields