Macro Photography Tips For Portraits

Macro photography has become one of the most popular forms of photography out there, especially among photographers like Simon Grossett who are into capturing certain details of a subject that need to be highlighted.

This type of photography has been mainly used for nature photography to capture the miniscule details of the subject. But it is also becoming used in other areas in photography, particularly nature photography.

Today, we shall share to you some techniques in doing portraits with macro photography.

Equipment and Lighting

The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro is an ideal macro lens to use as you can get up close without being restricted to the minimum focusing distance, as you would with a non-macro lens. The 100mm focal length enables you to get nice close-ups without distorting facial features, while the lens has a four-stop stabilizer, great for shooting handheld in low light conditions.


For close-ups you will also need soft natural light for best results, so if you are doing an outside shoot, avoid bright sunlight. It is also important to have a reflector to bounce light back onto your model’s face and fill in unflattering shadows.

Camera settings

Set your camera to Manual mode for full control. You’ll need to set a wide aperture to let in plenty of light. Depending on the speed of your lens, this will be somewhere between f/2.8 and f/5.6.

This will ensure that you have a fast enough shutter speed to avoid camera shake, and will also create a nice shallow depth of field, so your model’s facial features stay sharp while peripheral detail and the backdrop are thrown out of focus.

Once you’ve set your aperture, half-press the shutter button to meter the scene, and turn the dial to adjust the shutter speed until the exposure indicator is in the middle to obtain a balanced exposure.

Keep the ISO low for maximum image quality. But if you wish to have a fast enough shutter speed to capture pin-sharp shots you may need to increase the ISO to 400 or even 800, depending on the ambient lighting.


When it comes to composition, try to think outside the box and capture something a bit different. Most portraits are taken face-on with the camera around the subject’s eye level, so try changing the camera angle and viewpoint.


One option is go up high and shoot down on your subject, or you can get low and angle the camera up for an abstract feel. Try shots from the side too, with your subject looking both at you and away from you.

Features matter

Make the most of features such as the eyes, mouth and hair, but don’t feel obligated to include every feature in a single frame. In fact, you can try shooting half of your model’s face, or their profile, and come in tight to emphasize details such as the eyes for added impact.

For precise focusing, manually select the autofocus point that’s closest to the detail you want to capture – you’ll need to change the active focus point as you compose different shots.

Using a reflector

A reflector is simply a large sheet of reflective material that’s used to direct light onto a subject. When you’re shooting portraits in natural light, a lightweight, collapsible reflector would do just fine as they are a cheap, portable, and easy-to-use option for controlling the light without having to use flash.

Also keep in mind that white is great for lifting shadows and balancing the light, gold adds a warm glow to skin tones, and silver creates a much cooler feel and can also create nice highlights in the eyes.

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