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Tips & Tutorials >> All Tips & Tutorials

5 Portrait Techniques to Express Your Love for Her


Your girlfriend/wife may be the most beautiful woman in your eyes, but she might not be very convinced if the photos you take of her turn out less than ideal! Fix that with these five photography techniques often used by professional photographers.

Collage of portrait photos


1. You have eyes for only her

How to show it: Background bokeh

Portrait of girl against background bokeh

EOS 5D Mark III/ EF85mm f/1.2L USM/ FL: 85mm/ f/2.8/ 1/125 sec/ EV±0/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto
Photo by: Teppei Kohno

In portrait photography, the background is just as important as the subject. A cluttered background can be distracting—not ideal when you want all eyes to be on the person in the picture! To fix that, use a wide aperture to create a background bokeh effect. This defocuses the background, makes it less distracting, and makes the object of your attention/affection “pop”.

Find out more about the different effects of aperture on bokeh in:
Portrait Photography: 3 Aperture Settings Favoured by Professional Photographers


2. What you love: The sparkle in her eyes

How to bring it out: Catchlights!

Portrait with no catchlights, portrait with catclights

Photo by: Oliya T. Yabuta

Catchlights literally light up your subject’s eyes and put life into them. And they’re not difficult to create: Simply find a bright object or a light source, and get your subject to look in its general direction. In fact, the daytime sky creates the best catchlights! Find out how in this article.


3. You love her just the way she is

Reflect it: Light your portraits naturally with window backlight

Girl in front of window

EOS 5D Mark III/ EF50mm f/1.8 STM/ FL: 50mm/ Manual exposure (f/2.8/ 1/80 sec.)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto
Photo by: Teppei Kohno

Showcasing the lady in your life at her natural best, using natural lighting with natural-looking results…sounds ideal, doesn’t it? In fact, backlight from the sun is great for portraiture—as long as you know the techniques for it! The shot above was taken with no more than backlight from a window and a board reflector.

Find out how it was done in:
Step by Step: How to Capture Dramatic Portraits Using Backlight from the Window


4. You think about her all day and night

Preserve it: Take beautiful night portraits of her—with no tripod, no flash

Girl in front of shop at night

EOS 5D Mark II/ EF35mm f/2 IS USM/ Aperture-priority AE (f/2.0, 1/30 sec, EV -0.7)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto
Photo by: Ryosuke Takahashi

Round off your hot evening date by taking mesmerising shots of her. This article shows you how you can make the best of available light at night, and capture images with a different atmosphere from daylight. All you need your camera and lens.
P.S: Hunting for the ideal night shooting spot might just be a great date idea.


5. You want her to be the best that she can be

Solution: Help her put her best side forward with these posing and lighting techniques

Girl posing in front of window
Girl posing against wooden wall

Both images shot with: EOS 77D/ EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
Left: FL: 42mm (67mm equivalent)/ Manual exposure (f/4.5, 1/320 sec)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto
Right: FL: 22mm (35mm equivalent)/ Manual exposure (f/3.5, 1/160 sec)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto
Photos by: Oliya T. Yabuta (left), Nozomi Inoue (right) 

"But I'm not photogenic!" "I always look so awkward..." Sounds familiar? 
A good, flattering pose can make a huge difference to how a person looks in the shot! Unless your lady is a professional model, they might need some help getting into a position that looks good on camera. As the photographer (and dutiful boyfriend/husband), it is a major plus if you can guide them. Top it off with some lighting tricks to make her skin glow with radiance.

Check out:
3 Flattering Techniques to Learn from Professional Models
Techniques for Posing and Directing Portrait Subjects


Bonus: Canon’s EF85mm lenses—favoured by professional photographers

Professional portrait photographers tend to prefer standard/mid-telephoto focal lengths (50mm to around 135mm at full-frame equivalent) as they are less likely to result in perspective distortion. Canon’s EF85mm lenses are a popular choice, as they offer the most versatility for framing, and also come with extremely wide apertures that are perfect for creating bokeh.

There are currently three EF85mm lenses available:
- EF85mm f/1.2L II USM
- EF85mm f/1.4L IS USM
- EF85mm f/1.8 USM

Check out the following reviews to find out about them!
Why the EF85mm f/1.8 USM is Ideal for Portrait Photography
EF85mm f/1.4L IS USM Review: An Excellent Portrait Lens for Handheld Shooting

EOS R full-frame mirrorless series users can also look forward to not one, but two 85mm RF lenses with this popular focal length. Alongside its launch of the EOS RP, Canon also announced that it will be releasing two new RF85mm lenses in 2H 2019.  Stay tuned to SNAPSHOT for more updates!


Summing up

One of the most important keys to taking a great portrait is to build a connection with your subject. And when you're photographing someone you love, connection is something you already have! Make the best of it, and aim to express what you love and appreciate about her in the shot. It can be her pretty smile, her sweet personality, how she looks when she’s absorbed in doing something she loves, the way she gazes at you... Who knows, you might just fall in love with her all over again! 

Taking photos together is also a great way to bond, so enjoy the process. Happy shooting!


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