Click a Portrait

Zaver Shroff Portrait

Zaver Shroff Portrait

A portrait! What could be more simple and more complex, more obvious and more profound.
Charles Baudelaire



1. A DSLR Camera (like Canon 550D camera)

2. 50 mm lens (1.8f 50 mm lens), Why this lens? cause this ensures you get a good depth of field. In simple terms this means that some parts of the image will be sharp and some blurred. so eg for a portrait the eyes will be the sharpest, and as you move away the ears will be slightly blurred, and the background will be a lot more blurred. Why is this important? Because human eye perceives objects etc like this, we focus our eyes on one thing and the rest become blurred.



1. Ideally a good white/cream or any other very light colored wall which has a good light falling on it. If this is not possible you can try outdoor photography, keep in mind that for this its best that the background is as far away from the subject as possible to get more blur. 


Positioning the camera

2 options


1. Align the camera with the face of the person.

2. Align the camera slightly above the face of the person, with a small angle so that it points to the face.


Camera Setting

1. The camera should be in Aperture Priority mode (AV mode on Canon)

2. Set the aperture between 1.8 to 2.8 (ideally 2.8 as its more sharper)

3. The ISO should be between 100-400, ideally start with 100

4. exposure compensation can be set if you feel the snap is dark, its better to increase exposure compensation rather than increase the ISO.

5. At all points ensure that after the snap is clicked the exposure is less than 1/30, else even though it appears sharp on the camera, it will be blurred once you see it on the PC.

6. Set auto-focus on (it will be a small switch on the lens, it should point to AF)

7. Change the camera AF point selection to just highlight the center point so that it attempts to auto focus only the center point.

8. Set the drive mode to continuous shooting (Its the left navigation/arrow button on canon)


Time of Day

1. Early morning snaps are the best. The outdoor lighting is the best this time

2. The other reason also is that the person is more fresh in the morning, the pictures come more relaxed.


Light source

1. Both natural or artificial light should be in front of the subject/model and behind the photographer, or from the sides.

2. Overhead lighting like of the noon sun is bad as it will cause shadows under the eye etc.


Taking the shot

1. Keep your feet slightly apart with one foot in front of the other for support.

2. Arc your back instead of bending your knees for lowering the camera if required (if eg the model is sitting)

3. Ensure you grip the camera well, your camera should be held steadily.

4. As you look though the eye piece, ensure your framing is correct by zooming in or out, or stepping forward or behind (incase of 50mm lens where you cannot zoom)

5. After you are happy with the framing, change the angle of the camera so that the center point of AF focus point (you can see these AF points as you look through the eye piece) is focused on one of the eye (If the subject is facing you and both the eyes are equidistant it does not matter which eye, but is the face is sideways a bit, then the eye closest to you should be focused). Press the shutter half way, and wait for the lens to auto focus till you see a red blink on the point, and you hear a small clicking sound. This means the focus has been done.

6. Without releasing the shutter shift your camera angle back to the position it was when you framed it. Its important at this point that you dont release the shutter while its pressed half way, else you need to repeat the previous step. Also do not move forward or backward, just change the angle of the camera slightly so that you are back to the original frame. Its also important that the person you photograph does not move.

7. Press the shutter full way now, and keep it pressed if you want continuous snaps.

8. Try both portrait, landscape frames, and the angle. eg light falling on only one side of the face etc.


Image processing

1. Use a software like lightroom to import snaps.

2. Choose the snap you want, a good portrait is one where the eyes are sharp. If the eyes are not sharp the portrait snap is useless.

3. Although for each snap the settings change this is roughly what I used.

Recovery: 38
Fill Light: 25
Black: 24
Brightness: +55
Contrast: +77
Highlights: -52
Lights: +57
Darks: -36
Shadows: +36
Saturation: 0
Sharpness: 21

4. Align and Crop the image if required

5. Export the snap and you are done.


The image in the blog was clicked using most of the settings mentioned above. As you can notice, in some cases the camera is in line with the model, and in some cases above. Credit ofcourse goes to model Zaver Shroff for posing so well.

4 thoughts on “Click a Portrait

  1. The snaps look really good. I have a dslr but mostly use the green auto setting. Will follow ur step by step guide and tell u. But I don’t have lightroom. Any advice.

  2. Hi Jason,
    You can use free softwares like picasa too for changing a few settings. Let me be honest it wont be to the level of Lightroom ofcourse, but wont be too bad either. I think its also important for you to know that many photographers consider use of photoshop or any other software a very wrong step. According to them this is not pure photography, so its up to you.
    Cheers Anurag

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