Next to landscapes, portraits are probably the most popular type of photography. It makes sense – there’s plenty of subjects out there, you can take portraits with just about any camera, and portraiture lends itself to images that connect with people and tell a story.
Of course, taking a high-quality portrait isn’t as simple as pointing and shooting. In fact, there’s a lot that can go wrong. Some problems, though, are more common than others. With that in mind, let’s have a look at three common portrait mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.
Out of Focus Eyes
There’s a reason why the saying goes “the eyes are the windows to the soul.” The eyes are the first thing we notice when we look at a portrait, so if they aren’t in focus, the image immediately loses its appeal. Eyes that are in sharp focus help the viewer engage with the photo on a deeper level and allows them to draw firmer conclusions about the person they are looking at. What’s more, having the eyes in focus helps direct the viewer’s eyes as well. Notice how in the image above, your attention immediately goes to the woman in the back. This is because her eyes are in focus. If the eyes aren’t in focus, that means something else is, and the viewer will naturally be drawn to that area instead.
An easy way to ensure you’ve got the focus right is to switch your camera to live view and zoom in. The larger view on the camera’s LCD is often all that’s needed to get sharper focus. Knowing how to use your camera’s focus modes is essential as well. Of course, using manual focus will give you the most control. Even though today’s cameras have excellent autofocus systems, they aren’t foolproof. Learning how to focus manually will get you sharper photos just about every time.