Why To Focus On Eyes When Photographing People?

Why To Focus On Eyes When Photographing People

Today’s tip is about where you should focus your camera when photographing people. There are exceptions to every rule but for the most part, you want to focus on your subjects’ eyes.

They say that the eyes are the window to the soul. When we look at a person we naturally make eye contact first, so it’s super important when photographing them that their face and eyes are completely in focus.

Focus Point And Aperture

There are two main settings you really have to concentrate on when focusing on the eyes; focus point and aperture. If you’re shooting relatively wide and straight on, this isn’t hypercritical because pretty much everything is going to be in focus. However, if you’re photographing somebody at an angle, like down low looking up at them, this is going to be a lot more noticeable.

Focus Point

By default, the focus point is in the center of the frame and then their body is going to be the focus and their face could be out of focus. Every camera is different but most DSLRs have a way to change the focus point. In this case, you want to move it to the top of the frame, so it’s right on their face and the focus is exactly where you want it to be.


Now if you want to do a super-tight photo of somebody’s face, this is where the aperture is really important. If you shoot at a wider aperture, that’s the lower numbers like f4, f2.8 or f2, your focus plan is going to be very narrow. If you shoot at f11 pretty much your whole face is going to be sharp. At f2 it’s possible her nose is going to be sharp but her eye could be out of focus. That can be a super cool effect but you want to make sure your focus is exactly where you want it, on the eye.

Manual Focus

I would even recommend going to manual focus at that point because you have such little leeway, it’s better to dial it in yourself. Since this is so hard to do, you might want to shoot a whole bunch of frames just to make sure you get one that looks good. Also, it’s best to focus on the eye that’s closest to the camera instead of the one that’s further back, it just looks more natural that way.

So remember, use your focus points and aperture to tell your viewer exactly where to look and they should see your subjects’ eyes staring right back at them.

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