Photographing People with a Macro Camera
In my view, photographing people is the most challenging, but
rewarding style of photography. Focusing close-up on
faces reveals personality in a direct and uncompromising
fashion. A macro lens is an excellent choice for portrait
With photographs of people, we're talking more about close-up
photography than true macro photography, where the magnification is in
the 1:1 range. No matter: my point is to encourage you to use your
macro lens next time you're photographing people.
Before we move on, here are other the pages in this Macro
Photography Subjects section:
What type of lens shall I use for photographing people?
are typically in the 50-120mm range. This also happens
to be a good focal length range for portrait photography. Wider-angle
lenses tend to distort facial features when we move in close, and
longer, telephoto lenses flatten facial features in a way some find
less than ideal.
may find a lens in this range with macro capability. Give it a try, and
take advantage of the close-up range to come in close.
Ten Portrait Photography Tips, plus one secret!
settings: Set your camera's ISO to 400. In my experience
is the best trade-off between speed and clarity. Work with a large aperture
and fast shutter
speed. This ensures a low depth
of field to create an un-distracting, blurred-out background.
Just be aware the field of exact focus is lower, which demands exact
focusing. Speaking of which...
- Focus on the
eyes. Nothing ruins photographs of people like blurry
- Know your gear.
A good portrait photography session is about flow. Keep the momentum
going by understanding your camera controls and settings.
- Learn the language
of light. Understand how lighting direction and
the size of your light source affects your photographs. Study the photography
lighting section for more detail.
- Shoot a lot.
Keep your shutter humming! In the days of film
photography, this strategy
had financial consequences, but in digital
photography, there are virtually no limits. Carry extra flash
memory cards and you're golden. The only drawback is more time editing
photos, but that's a small price to pay.
- For studio
portrait photography, you
will need four basic
equipment (plus some accessories): a camera with lens, a
source, a neutral
background, and a single reflector. Place the light source at a 45
degree angle to the camera, slightly higher than the subject's face.
just explained the basics. The rest is up to you!
- Take advantage of the macro lens by coming
with the face filling the frame. Work your way in slowly to close-up
range. Most people have a strong sense of personal space and won't
relax if you start too close for their comfort. I usually start from a
distance, full-body, and work my way in closer as I go.
- When photographing people outdoors,
look for soft light and
neutral, uncluttered backgrounds. Around buildings, you'll
find both of
these qualities in doorways, next to windows, and under eaves. Explain
to your subject what you're looking for, and enlist their
- Give people
props to help them relax and feel at ease. This works
especially well when photographing children.
- Avoid direct
sunlight in your subject's eyes. The brightness makes them
squint, and is not pleasant, nor does it make good photos. If that's
the light you have to work with, turn them around and use the direct
sun as a back-light, using a reflector card (or fill
flash) to add fill
Finally, here's a "secret" portrait photography tip for when you have a
nervous subject. I call it "The
Colombo Trick", after the TV detective who always asked
the suspect just one more pivotal question after telling them
"thank-you, we're done".
Tell your subject that you're finished, and they've been great....then,
"oh, just one more! This is good!" Nervous people always relax after
being told they're finished, and I've gotten some of the best portraits
that way. They will forgive your little fib once they see the results.
Using macro photography strategies when photographing people can pay
off richly. Here are some examples:
approach to Photographing People?
Have You Used a Macro lens For Photographing People?
Do you have some great macro lens Portrait Photography? Share it!