The eyes are nearly always the focal point in portrait photography, as that’s the first thing we are naturally drawn to when looking at an image of a person. There are of course exceptions to this, but if you have a composition where the subject is looking at the camera, chances are you will want the eyes to be sharp and in clear focus! Here are 4 tips to help you get tack-sharp eyes in pictures.
1) Make sure that you use an appropriate aperture setting.
First, you need to make sure that you have sufficient depth of field. If you are using a very large aperture, and are quite close to your subject, then the plane (area) of focus can be very, very thin. This means when shooting at lower apertures, you have to be very VERY careful to focus on the eyeball – just a slight “miss” will cause focus to land on the eyebrow, or even on the eyelashes, leading to a slightly “soft” eye. For portrait close ups, it’s usually a lot easier just to close up that aperture a bit to give you a bit more leeway!
More on aperture: Understand and Master Aperture and f/stop
2) Make sure your focus point is on the eye.
If you currently use AUTO FOCUS, turn it off. You want to control the point of focus yourself (left to it’s own devices, the camera will just choose whatever is closet to the camera: might be the eye, but more likely to be the nose!) so toggle through your focal points until you get one that hovers over the eye that is nearest the camera. You may need to recompose a little after focusing depending on just how many focus points you have in your camera, to do so, simply press your shutter halfway down to lock focus, and then carefully move to the desired composition. You want to make sure this is just a slight movement though – too much and it can throw your focus off.
3) Watch your shutter speed
Sometimes we think we have missed focus when actually the image is ever so slightly soft due to too slow a shutter speed. Make sure your shutter speed is high enough for the movement of the person – with children it’s better to keep it higher than the minimum recommended speeds. With adults who are happy to sit for you and not squirm and try to escape, you can go a bit lower, but not under 1/125 if you can.
4) Get light on the eyes.
You also want to position your subject so that they have light shining into their eyes so you get good “catchlights”. Light makes eyes look alive, and this combined with correct focusing will make them appear beautifully sharp. Turn your subject in a circle until you can see the light hitting their eyes – you’ll see the reflection of the light source in them when it is just right!
I’ve also created a beautiful FREE ebook just for you which gives you some more tips on getting eyes to “pop” which includes a full step by step guide on how to edit the eyes in Lightroom or Photoshop to really bring them to life! Click HERE to get your hands on your free ebook.
Guest Blogger: Audrey from Life Snap Love