Home Portrait Photography Close Up Portrait Photography Tips

Close Up Portrait Photography Tips

6 min read
close up portrait photography tips couple

There’s no better way to show off your subject’s face than with a close up portrait.

By taking a portrait close up, you can eliminate other distracting elements within the frame and pull the focus of attention on to your subject.

In this article, we’re going to share with you some close up portrait photography tips that will ensure that you capture the best looking images.


close up portrait photography tips couple
Photo by Krista Guenin


The Best Camera Settings for Close Up Portrait Photography

When taking close up portraits you should set the ISO to its lowest setting on your camera (100 – 200).

A low ISO setting will ensure that no visible noise or grain will occur within the image. A close up portrait with a lot of image noise is usually less appealing.

It’s also a good idea to use the camera’s aperture priority mode.

Since you’re not photographing a fast moving object, shutter speed choice is not as important. The aperture priority mode will allow you to focus on an aperture setting that achieves the best depth of field, while the shutter speed is automatically adjusted by your camera to compensate for a good exposure.


close up portrait hair
Photo by Paladin27


An aperture setting of f/7.1 tends to work best for close up portrait photography because of its depth of field range.

This f-stop will help to keep both your subject’s eyes in sharp focus as well as the hair. Smaller f-stop numbers may render the eyes in focus but the hair slightly out of focus because the depth of field range becomes shorter.


creative portrait depth of field


You can try using a wider aperture such as f/2.8 if you’re trying to create a dreamy and/or soft image.

The main thing to do when taking the close up is to make sure the person’s eyes are in crisp focus. As they say, the eyes are the window to the soul. If the eyes are sharp then the chances are the portrait will turn out good, regardless of the depth of field.

If the focal length of the lens is anywhere from 50mm to 150mm it should produce a fine close up portrait that keeps all of the person’s features from distorting.

Make sure that you utilize the camera’s image stabilization mode to help stop camera shake and blurriness. If your camera doesn’t have an image stabilization feature then you should consider using a tripod to make sure the camera doesn’t shake.


close up lighting


The best close up portraits are usually produced by using soft light.

Soft light can be achieved by taking the shots near window (with light streaming in) as well as on an overcast day.

If it happens to be a clear or sunny day then you should take the photos in a shaded spot so that you can eliminate the presence of hard light, which is generally unflattering.

You can also use a diffused on-camera flash as well for effective light.

What’ Next?

We hope you enjoyed these close up portrait photography tips. Now that you’re finished reading, leave a comment below telling us which tip was your favorite and share any experiences you’ve had taking these types of photographs.

Then, check out our related posts to learn even more ways to improve your photography.


  1. jaikumar

    March 4, 2013 at 12:57 am

    Thanks for the tips on portrait very useful for non pros like me.
    Free dpt has always privvided with vital photographic info which helps ameaturs. Jaikumar

  2. Kat

    March 4, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Being an ameature photographer I love any tips telling me what exact number to set my ISO, Apeture, shutter speed etc. It gives me a starting point and I can adjust from there. One day I know it will all click! I just need to get out and practice more.
    Thanks, keep up the great work.

  3. 91 Great Photography Links (Grab a Coffee)

    March 10, 2013 at 10:05 am

    […] Close Up Portrait Photography Tips – a brief and concise series of tips and tricks for portrait photography.  This is a short, well-written piece that discusses some of the finer points from a high level for capturing and producing great portraits. […]

  4. Frank

    March 10, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Well written, straight to the point, and informative. Great article

  5. Hermeneanu Valter

    May 8, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    Great tips. Thank you very much.

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