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Top People Photography Mistakes to Avoid

Top People Photography Mistakes to Avoid

Top People Photography Mistakes to Avoid

Here is a quick list of some of the top people photography mistakes, and tips on how to avoid them. Whether you’re doing posed portraits, or candid photos of your kids, you should find some things helpful for you.

Using the wrong lens

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. That often leaves the person's face looking stretched and overly large. Nobody likes a giant head, so step back a bit and use a longer lens. For people photography a short to medium telephoto is often preferred.

Background too sharp

So you want your subject to be sharp for sure, and ideally to have the background less sharp or slightly out of focus. To do this you need to get the subject away from the background. If they’re standing right in front of a tree, you’ll never get the tree out of focus. Ask your model to move forward at least 6 feet, away from whatever is behind them. Use a larger aperture for a shallower depth of field. If you’re already using a telephoto lens from that will also help you throw the background out of focus.

Shooting from the 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 an unflattering double chin. Shooting too high can make the person look small, or emphasize a receding hairline. Experiment and find just the right camera height for your subject. For kids, get down lower on their level.

Top People Photography Mistakes to Avoid

Light too harsh

Learn about the quality of light and which to use for people. Most often soft light is better, and more flattering. Putting people into direct sun, or using a direct flash without light modifiers can make them squint, enhances skin imperfections like blemishes and wrinkles, and creates overly deep shadows with no detail.

Lacking depth of field

Having the right depth of field is about finding a balance between keeping the background blurry, and making sure your subject is totally in focus. When photographing a single person with your camera from, you can get away with larger apertures like f/2.8 or even f/1.8. Shooting a group photo however requires a bit more depth of field, and therefore a smaller aperture. Aim to position people close together so you can work with f/5.6 or f/8. Focus about halfway into the group, midway between the front of the person in front, and the back of the person behind.

Bad cropping

Bad cropping includes things like cutting off people's hands or feet, or cropping at the joints. A general rule of thumb is to either include their whole arm, hand and fingers, legs and feet, or to crop in to make more obvious. Missing portions of fingers or toes just look amputated. Cropping into the head is okay too, but just make sure you leave some of their shoulders in the lower part of the image as a base. A face that's cropped into the forehead, and only shows just below the chin looks like a floating head.

Top People Photography Mistakes to Avoid

By avoiding these people photography mistakes and using the tips provided, you will be on your way to taking better images of your family and friends.

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