Brian Smith Portraits of Kathmandu Nepal
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Tips for Shooting Better Portraits

Creating a compelling portrait can take a lot of thought and design. But here are three practical tips you can use to improve your image.

Choose the Right Lens

Choosing the correct lens can make a huge impact on your portraits. Traditional portrait lenses are 85mm, 100mm, and 135mm, but I much prefer the focal range offered by a 2470mm zoom. At its widest setting of 24mm, it allows you to capture a lot of environment around your subject. Select a longer focal length if you are closer to your subject. Zoom to 70mm for an intimate portrait.

A 24-70mm lens is one of the most versatile lenses for portrait photography as it covers the range from wide to moderate telephoto. On the left is the 2470mm lens at 24mm, and on the right is 2470mm lens at 70mm

Know Your Glass

Different focal lengths flatten perspective to various degrees. Understanding the feeling that this creates is another tool in creating memorable portraits. Filling the frame results in different looks – and feeling – depending on focal length. Shooting a tight portrait with a slightly wide-angle lens results in rounder facial features than you get when shooting with a longer focal length.

Note the difference in perspective and background between similarly cropped portraits shot with a wide angle 35mm lens on the left, and a telephoto 135mm lens on the right – Both shots 1/200 sec. at f/2.0.

Zoom With Your Feet

Never forget that the best zoom lens you’ll ever own are those things at the bottom of your legs called “feet.” Don’t forget to shoot both tight and loose even when shooting with a prime lens.

Kathmandu Nepal
Both of these portraits were shot with a Sony 135mm F1.8 Zeiss lens by quickly stepping in and out for a tight and full length portrait.

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