I admit it. I’m a little OCD when it comes to focus and image sharpness. I’ve thrown out a lot of pictures over the years just because they weren’t sharp enough around the subject’s face and eyes. You’ve done it too, right? And it’s SO ANNOYING! One question I get a lot is: “How do you make your pictures look so clear/crisp/sharp?” So I want to share a few tips that I hope will help you nail the shot every time and get the results you’re looking for. Happy shooting!!!
1. Upgrade your equipment
First thing’s first. You need good equipment to produce sharp images. A good camera doesn’t make you a good photographer. That would be nice, huh? But it does help you raise the bar on the quality of images you’re producing. It worked for me! I know it’s hard when you’re starting out. Do the best you can with what you have. But when you get a little extra moolah set aside, upgrade your equipment. You don’t have to buy all new goods at once; just do it as you can.
2. The eyes have it
To insure that your subject’s eyes are “sharp as a tack” try this simple trick: Focus on them by putting your focal point right on the center of one of the eyes. Don’t just focus on the person’s head; go for the eye. And instead of allowing your camera to automatically choose your focal point, set the AF point manually. This gives you the ability to place the point right on the eye. Sometimes a person won’t be facing you straight on, making one eye closer to you. Put the focal point on the one that is closest to you.
3. Fix your lenses
I like to preach about the superiority of fixed lenses when it comes to shooting portraits. I recently broke down and bought the 24-70 2.8 L and have been totally disappointed with the quality of the images it produces when compared to any of my fixed lenses. Why didn’t I take my own advice? AHH! Fixed lenses always produce sharper images. (The zoom is great for travel though!)
4. Lighting is your friend
I try to set up shots so that the subject is facing the light (sun or artificial) head on. Shooting with the right amount of light coming from the right direction allows you to keep your ISO low. And that results in sharper looking images.
5. Sharpen your images
I sharpen most of my images during post-processing. If you want to learn how to do this, Google “sharpen image in Photoshop” or buy an action that does the work for you. One word of caution: Don’t over-sharpen your images. There’s a lot of that going on out there, and it just looks weird. Over-sharpened eyes make people look like creepy baby dolls from horror movies, don’t you think? If you’ve done steps 1-4 right, you shouldn’t have to sharpen too much.
And now for some shameless pictures of the cutest baby on the block: