Here are three sure-fire portrait tips that will help you get great results every time.
1. Chase the light. This portrait was made with nothing but a simple, single large light source, i.e., a window looking into my studio. There are no reflectors or other lights. Finding a large window and posing the subject close to that window is a simple way to guarantee soft, beautiful light. Remember the key is to place the subject as close to the window as possible and to find as large a window as you can.
2. Shoot as close to wide open as possible. This image was made at an electronic f-stop of f/2.5. Notice how the plant behind the model seems to blend into the background? This is because there was a shallow depth-of-field due to the large aperture. Shooting wide-open will always help put the background where it belongs – in the back. The person is the star of the image, not the background. Shooting wide open makes this possible.
3. Focus on the eyes. If you use autofocus, put your center AF point on the eyes, press the AF button (shutter or otherwise depending on how your camera is set up) and then recompose. In a portrait, the only thing that has to be sharp is the subject’s eyes. Everything else can be out of focus. But as they say, the eyes are the window to the soul. So let’s make sure they are clearly in focus.