Great portraits use the eyes as the focus point.

Someone's eyes can tell a story and make all the difference in a portrait

Even if your subject is not looking straight into the lens, place focus on the iris. This is super easy if you’re using a smartphone—most devices have a focus point box selector that appears when you tap on the LCD. Simply touch on a person’s face (on the LCD) once you have framed and steadied for the shot.

Some point and shoot cameras may have this box-out focus feature too. If you’re photographing a portrait close-in, dial the setting to Portrait. You may wish to also turn on the flash, even if you are outdoors. The flash will fill-in shadow areas that tend to make a person look tired or aged.

If you are working with a DSLR you have more control. You can manually select an AF (auto focus) point that’s positioned over one of your subject’s eyes. If your subject is not standing at center of frame, and you’re not sure how to move the AF points around, try the focus, lock, recompose method.

Focus, Lock, Recompose

Framing your portrait during an action can tell a story

  • Frame up your subject in good light
  • Place the camera’s central focus point over your subject’s eye
  • Hold the shutter button down halfway (this makes the camera focus lock and it will stay at that focus point until released)
  • While still holding down the shutter halfway, gently re-position the camera to frame the shot to your liking
  • Steady the camera and fully press down the shutter

View the image you just captured by looking at it on the LCD. Zoom-in on the eyes to be certain you nabbed tack-sharp focus.

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