Ever since photography was invented, people have been taking photographs of other people. Taking portraits seems pretty straightforward, just have the subject smile, point the camera, and press the Shutter Release button. But to get a really good portrait, it is important to understand what apertures and shutter speeds to use, how to work indoors and out, and how to pose your subjects. There are also some differences when working with groups and children and how to get the best from both. All you really need for a portrait is a camera, lens, and a subject, but it is important to know about the different lighting choices available and some accessories such as diffusers, reflectors, and backdrops that can not only improve your photos but can also open up your creative side.
This portrait was shot outdoors using a diffuser to soften the light. Taken at 1/250, f/5.6, ISO 200.
Most portrait photography takes place in environments where you can control the light, giving you a wide variety of options when picking the aperture and shutter speed. Because you can have your pick of apertures and shutter speeds, it is important to use the best ones for the situation. Want to blur the background but keep the model in sharp focus? There is an aperture for that. Want a shutter speed for shooting with a flash? That's covered as well.