7 Ways to Ensure You Get Sharp Images When Photographing People


Any photographer knows that sooner or later there is a challenge with obtaining sharp images. Novice photographers, especially, will find it the greatest challenge often stumped by why they get blurry pictures. The bottom line is that, if you have ever taken pictures, you've likely taken a blurry one at some point - especially if you're photographing people. Groups of people are the most challenging when it comes to getting that crisp, sharp pictures we all strive for! 


There are numerous reasons for blurry pictures, unfortunately, but there are some steps you can take to get the sharpest images possible. It might take a little experimenting to establish what is behind blurry pictures. The effort is well worth it. Sharp images - mean better pictures!

1. Steady:

If you want sharp pictures, the first step is to ensure you're maintaining the camera steady. If you're not holding the camera firmly, you're probably not going to get sharp pictures. It's important to keep the camera properly and steadily to avoid any movement. If it is difficult for you, to maintain the camera steady, be sure to use a tripod. In high winds or cold temperatures (where your hands might tremble), we recommend a tripod.

Alice, автор — Георгий  Чернядьев (Georgy Chernyadyev) на 500px.com

2. Your Lens & Equipment:

What equipment you use will matter to the sharpness of your pictures. Quality helps but it isn't the deal breaker when it comes to obtaining good crisp clear pictures. A 35mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.8 or an 85mm f/1.8 are all good lenses for getting sharper images. Experimenting with various lens lengths will give you good practice and experience. You'll get better versed in identifying which lenses to pull out when depending on the photograph and subjects. Don't forget to keep your equipment clean! You can't get a sharp picture if your lenses are dirty. We recommend occasional professional cleaning of both your camera and your lenses. You might find that a professional cleaning resolves an ongoing issue with blurry photos if you've tried everything else!

Vika, автор — Георгий  Чернядьев (Georgy Chernyadyev) на 500px.com

3. Shutter Speed:

Your shutter speed needs to be correct, or your photos won't turn out as sharp as they could. Ideally, you should set your shutter speed to the same length as the focal length of your lens. To be safe, a good rule of thumb is to adjust the speed to double the focal length of your lens. So if you are using your zoom lens set at 200mm, you should use a shutter speed of at least 1/300 or 1/400 of a second and if you are using a 50mm zoom lens you will get a sharp image at 1/100th of a second.

Dasha, автор — Георгий  Чернядьев (Georgy Chernyadyev) на 500px.com

4. Your Aperture: 

When you are trying to get the entire picture into focus as when you're photographing a group of people not evenly lined up, the tighter your aperture, the more focused the picture. The wider your set your aperture, the less focused your periphery or outer edges will be. 

Anastasia, автор — Георгий  Чернядьев (Georgy Chernyadyev) на 500px.com

5. Focus on the Eyes & Face:

Use the camera's built-in center focal point to the subject's eyes. If there's more than one subject, pick the one closest to the center of the picture for the clearest picture. Remember that you can move the focal point around while trying to establish the most clarity. A good trick is to set your camera's focal point on your subject's face but, in particular, their eyes. It's usually the best place to check for sharpness using the focal point of your camera. 

Eye, автор — Laurens Kaldeway на 500px.com

6. Group Focus:

It can be tricky to get crisp, sharp pictures when it's a group shot filled with various people standing around - unless you are setting your aperture manually. The simplest, albeit most mundane, a solution to a group shot is to create an even plane by evenly lining up everyone in the group. Shooting a staggered group of people means you will have to play around with your aperture by going tighter on your aperture setting (rather than wider) to get everyone into sharper focus. An even line makes it easier, and there's no need to adjust the aperture.

longboarding girl friends, автор — Olena Zaskochenko на 500px.com

7. Pick the Center of a Group:

Another trick with group photos is to focus on the person closest to you or the center of the photograph. Ideally, the person is both close to you and the center! Keep in mind that focusing strictly on them without adjusting the aperture means that only those people behind them and closest to them will be in focus. You could find that group members closer to the edges of the group are not in sharp focus unless you adjust the aperture.

Masai Women, автор — Alireza Behrooz на 500px.com

It takes a bit of skill, experience, practice, and, yes, patience to get sharp photographs. Obviously, the results are always well worth it. We recommend you keep these steps in mind if you are having a challenging time with sharp pictures especially group photos.