Where Should Your Focus Point Be When Photographing People?

If you are simply photographing a single person and they are occupying the majority of the frame, it is not hard to know where to place your focus point, but things can get a bit more complicated if you are dealing with a group of people or a particularly intricate scene. This helpful video tutorial will show you everything you need to know to make sure you get the best possible results every time. 

Coming to you from Katelyn James, this excellent video tutorial will show you some helpful tips for where to place your focus point for photographing people. For something like a portrait of a single person, this is easy, but when you get to working with larger groups, it can be a bit trickier. One particular salient point James makes is the importance of being aware of the focal plane. Of course, we all know the importance of the focal point, but it is easy to forget that is not the sole place of focus, but rather, it tells the camera where to set the entire plane of focus. As such, you need to consider your angle relative to the subject(s) when setting the focus plane and choosing an aperture. Check out the video above for the full rundown from James. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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I would say to focus on the eye ball unless the long lashes with the eyes closed is your focus intention, on a Sony camera with AF and some newer AF cameras the focus box with I-AF works better letting these new AF systems find the eye. Using a small or smallest focus point will definitely jump to other than the eye if high contrast or low light shooting.

There are many colors a stylist would recommend if presenting on a video I don't want to be mean because I love RED hair but you didn't do yourself any favors with your choice....
Avoid pastels since these colors tend to wash out those with red hair. Also avoid most oranges, yellows, and burgundy-reds. (Yellow is the wild card color— on some it looks unbelievably good and others it washes out.) Never be afraid to be bold with the colors you wear.Jul 8, 2015

Focus is not only where you focus and behind. It’s in front also. With a fullframe 50mm at f2 5 m it’s almost as much in front as behind. At f11 it’s mostly behind. Depending on lens, fstop and distance it will be different result. With 50 mm and 5 meter distance and f 5.6 you have 1.2m in front and 2.5m in the back. It differs according to distance to. 50 mm lens at f1 at 0.50 m will give equal sharpness in front and behind.

With a group shot it would be appropriate to use f8 or f11, and then most area of sharpness will be behind. With lower f stop it’s tighter and sometimes it could be better to focus on row two of four then front .

I played with this a little, it’s quite educational:)