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  • I’ve been using a zoom lens (24-120mm) when doing portrait photography for a number of years.  With just one twist of the lens I can go from having a head & shoulders shot, to a head shot, or fill the entire frame with just the face.
  • Most cameras now have a separate setting for taking portraits, but I still like to set my own aperture.  This gives you more control on how the photograph will come out.  If you use this method, be aware of the aperture setting that you choose.  A large aperture will give you a smaller depth of field, which can make the part of the head that is closest to the camera and the part farthest from the camera out of focus; especially if you are using a zoom lens.  A small aperture on the other hand will give you a greater depth of field on your subject, but will then bring the background into focus, which you probably will not want.  I like shooting at an aperture in the range of f/5.6 to f/8; but I do change the apertures out to the extremes just to see the different aspects it gives.
  • Be very aware of your background.  You don’t want the background so distracting that it takes away from your subject.  Also make sure that there are no trees, poles or other objects that look like they are ‘growing’ out of your subject’s head or body.
  • If you are shooting outdoors in an area that is shaded, you may want to think of using fill-flash.  It will take out the shadows that may be hiding your subject’s face.
  • Position your subject’s eyes 1/3 of the way down from the top of the frame.  This will give a more balanced and pleasing look to your subject.
  • Another major problem is having photographs where some of the people have their eyes closed.  The only time you’re going to notice this is after the shoot, when you’re back at home looking at them on your computer; or if you used film, after they’re developed & printed. 
    • One trick I use to have everyone shut their eyes and then count backwards from ‘3’.  After saying ‘1’, then say “open eyes”.  Wait for a moment and then take the photograph.  This is simple, and works wonders so that everyone’s eyes are open.  Of course you’ll want to do this several times to get the best results.

   
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