Focus on faces

Doin' Time by Jenni Bourke shows that eye contact can help the viewer make a visual connection

Doin’ Time by Jenni Bourke shows that eye contact can help the viewer make a visual connection

By Julie Hartwig, Tin Can Bay Camera Club

One of the most popular photography subjects is people. It can also be one of the most difficult. This genre includes candid, sports and action, formal portraits and weddings to name a few, and each requires specific camera settings.

One thing that is consistently required is sharp focus, especially of the eyes. To achieve this we use what is called the “focus and re-compose” technique: Place the auto focus square on the person’s eyes and press the shutter button halfway down. Holding the shutter button there to lock that focus point, re-compose the photo by positioning your subject nicely in the viewfinder (or LCS screen) and take the photo.

This technique works fine if you have only one person in your photo. But what if you’re photographing a group of people? Camera makers have thought of this, too!

Many cameras now have a setting that enables the auto focus to detect faces and automatically lock focus on them, ensuring that everyone in the photo is in focus. Depending on your camera make and model, it may be known as Face Detection, Face Recognition, Face Tracking or Face Priority.

Finally, a word on composition. In a portrait, it’s not essential that the subject is looking directly at the camera, but eye contact can help the viewer make a visual connection.

Try to avoid placing your subject right in the middle of the frame with lots of empty – or busy and possibly distracting – space around them. Fill the frame – this will give a stronger photo. And remember that a vertical subject is better suited to a vertical photo – turn your camera on its side to achieve this.

Happy snapping – more tips next month!

The Tin Can Bay Camera Club’s next meeting is 7pm, April 19 at TCB Library. For more information about club activities and to view members’ images, visit

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