Close Up Portrait Photography

Close ups can create a stunning portrait photograph. The close up will bring out the finer details of someone’s skin that would otherwise be lost, telling an engaging story.

Here are some tips to help you create a beautiful close up portrait photograph

close up black and white portrait of man

Examine your subject

This is the most important part of a close up portrait photograph. The subject must be examined in order to determine the best location and angles. The subject is usually examined by walking around them, looking at them from all sides, and being sure to capture every angle. The best views of your subject are often located under bright light or in front of dark backgrounds. A good rule to follow when choosing a background is that the background should be darker than 50% gray, as this will cause your subject to stand out more clearly from the background.

Search for the most dramatic and important locations

After examining your subject, then finding the best spot to take the photograph, choose a location that is very dramatic. This will give your close up portrait photograph an impactful feel that will be noticed. A neutral background or a plain color such as white or gray should also be used.

Watch out for imperfections in your subject’s skin tone

Many people have uneven skin tones including areas of darker skin tone and areas of lighter skin tone on their body. Try to avoid these imperfections by choosing a location where they will be less noticeable.

Focus your camera on your subject’s face

The focal point of the photograph should be the person’s face. Make sure that you are taking photographs at a close enough distance that allows you to focus on the person’s eyes. The background should also be slightly out of focus in order to make your subject stand out more clearly.

Take many photographs and form your own opinions

There is no perfect setting for a close up portrait photograph that will suit every situation. It is important to experiment with different settings and angles before creating a final image. Take plenty of photographs so you can edit the best ones together in your post-processing software.

Examine your photographs carefully and edit your favorites

Once you have taken some photographs, examine them thoroughly before editing them in an image editing application such as Lightroom or Photoshop. This will allow you to identify any problematic areas that need to be edited, and this will also help you to choose a final image.

What Lens To Use For Close Up Portrait Photography

You will probably want to use one of the following lenses for your close up portraits:

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 USM

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 USM or Nikon AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8 G ED

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro USM

You can learn more about these lenses in our lens guides.

Close Up Portrait Tips And Advice For Beginners

When you have taken your photographs, the editing process can be interesting. Try to mimic as closely as possible natural skin tones, and do not overdo the saturation and contrast. If there is too much contrast or saturation your image will look too unrealistic. Some sharpening is also a good idea. You can use the Luminosity tool in Photoshop to achieve this aim.

Bottom Line

It is important to educate yourself on the rules and techniques of photography prior to taking close up portrait photographs. The details in your subject’s skin and hair will become more apparent, and they will also stand out against the background that you have chosen.

Some of the tips mentioned in this article can be used for many types of photographs, but close up portraits are one example where these tips can be used.