Sharing photographs of family and friends through email, websites and custom greeting cards is a central 21st-century pastime. By paying attention to light and composition, everyone can take great portraits.
Whenever possible, take portraits outside. Sunlight is the most user-friendly light, even on a cloudy day. Morning and evening light are especially beautiful. Position your subjects so that the sun is behind them and to one side, which avoids both glare and squinting.
Be mindful of shadows from overhanging trees or nearby buildings. Adjust the flash so that it will go off even if it’s not needed. This removes shadows from the faces and brings people into the foreground of the picture.
Full-body portraits can make subjects look distant and indistinct. Nearer is better than farther. For group shots, gather people closely together.
Simple backgrounds work best. Blurred backgrounds bring subjects into greater relief. Most digital cameras have a setting that blurs the background automatically. Using the camera’s optical zoom will increase this effect.
Lock the focus on the subject’s eyes by pointing the camera there and holding the shutter button halfway down. You can move the camera to compose the shot before snapping the picture, and the subject’s eyes will remain bright and clear.