10 portrait photography mistakes every photographer makes (and how to fix them)

Portrait Photography Mistake No. 3: Too much depth of field

Portrait Photography Mistake No. 9: Too much detail

While you want your subject’s eyes to be sharp, you don’t want to emphasise any flaws in their skin, for example.

If you shoot only JPEG images look for a Natural or Neutral colour setting and use that rather than Standard or Vibrant, which may saturate colours, especially red and draw attention to pimples etc.

Better still, shoot raw files  and process them carefully paying attention to the skin tone and keeping saturation down (but not so they look ill.

You may also want spend a little bit of time sympathetically retouching the portrait to deal with any blemishes or pimples.

Be sparing with the level of sharpening that you apply to the image (in-camera or post-capture) and if possible sharpen selectively when processing the image, targeting the eyes and hair while leaving the skin unsharpened.

Conversely, don’t get carried away with the retouching so the skin looks plastic on the subject barely recognises themself.

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Portrait Photography Mistake No. 10: Too far away

Professional Photographer to the Rescue: zoom advice

One of the most common errors made by novice photographers is to stand too far away from the subject and not zoom in sufficiently with the lens.

With portrait photography taken outside this can often mean huge empty areas around the subject with a vast sky above them and acres of ground beneath them, when in fact head and shoulders portrait would work much better.

That’s not to say that full-length portraits don’t work, they just need a little more thought than many people give them.

Although going closer can often result in better portraits, beware going over the top and producing a passport photo, a tight head-shot from the neck up.

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  • jmeyer

    Great idea! Thanks for sharing.