In portrait photography, one of the main differences between a happy snapper and a professional is that the professional takes control of the camera
from Beachcamera.com. They also understand what makes for good composition. Here are some tips on the settings to use for portrait photography whether you’re taking newborn portraits or gathering everyone for family portraits.
When taking newborn photography, you’ll want to capture all the innocence and dreaminess you can. This means that you need both a soft light and a shallow depth of field for your pictures. Begin by choosing an aperture priority mode, and a larger aperture of around f/3.5 or more. This will blur part of the background and help to keep the baby in sharper focus. An ISO range between 200 and 800 will help to take you all the way from the very first shots you snap of a newborn, to the photos you take of the same bundle of joy a few months later. Just remember to only use the 800 setting in environments where the lighting is quite dim.
Getting the Focus Right
The focal length is also something you’ll need to consider when choosing the best camera settings for newborn photography and baby photography. Typically, the best option is to stick with a focal length somewhere between 80mm and 100mm when you’re snapping intimate pictures between a child and their parents, or when you’re taking a close-up shot of the infant snuggled up in a blanket. Remember to use image stabilization on your camera
from Beachcamera.com, because it can be difficult to eliminate any motion when taking newborn photography. If you don’t have image stabilization features, you can always keep your camera steady by using a tripod for short-distance shots.
Family Portrait Photography
How do you get such sharp group and family portraits? The goal of family portraits is to get every member of the group in sharp focus, so when the family prints the photos for their wall or an album, they look beautiful and professional. Here are some focus tips for getting sharp group and family portraits.
Focus on the People in the Front
If you have two rows of people standing, make sure to focus on the person who’s front and center. Aperture, like a lot of things in photography, works in a system of thirds. So, if your aperture is f/4, then within that focal plane, wherever you focus, 1/3 of that will go forward and 2/3 will go backward. In other words, when you focus on someone in the front of the family portrait, you just need them to be in focus, and nothing in front of them. But you do need the people behind them to be in focus. You’ll have a better chance of doing that if you give them the extra 2/3 of that aperture’s focal depth.
Pick the Right Aperture
One of the most important focus tips when shooting family portrait photography is to make sure you choose the right aperture. If you’re shooting a smaller grouping of about 4-6 people, and they’re all on the same focal plane, you can shoot at f/2.8, get them all in focus and maybe some bokeh, too. If you’re shooting a larger grouping of about 8-10 people, and they’re all on the same focal plane, then you’ll bump your aperture up a full stop to f/4.0. Use f/4.0 if there’s a second row added to a small grouping, as long as everyone is very close together. If there’s a third row, go to at least f/5.6 and maybe even f/8.0. As a rule of thumb, though, you’ll tend to hang out at f/4.0 for most of family portrait time. Because even though you give up some of the bokeh in the background compared to f/2.8, you’ll trade that for guaranteed in-focus family shots any day of the week. Your client probably won’t appreciate the difference between f/2.8 and f/4.0, but they’ll notice if they’re blurry!
If you manage to learn the basics of your camera and your “go-to” portrait camera settings, you’ll produce images your clients love.