Introduction: How to Take a Portrait Image on a DSLR Camera

How to take a portrait image on a DLSR camera with the subject of the photo is in focus and the background is blurred.


  1. A charged DLSR Camera
  2. An inserted memory chip

An image of a DLSR Camera and the memory chip used are shown above.

Step 1: Camera Functions and Descriptions

  • A DSLR camera is a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera.
  • The ISO function changes how sensitive your camera is to light. The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive it to light and vice versa. If the setting you are photographing in has low light, you want a higher ISO number to enable the camera to be more sensitive to the light that is available.
  • The Shutter Speed affects how long the camera lens is open. Most photographers use a higher shutter speed (around 1/200) when taking portrait images.
  • The aperture (or F-Stop) determines how open your lens is, which affects how much light enters the camera and the depth of field. For a portrait image, you want a shallow depth of field and therefore a wider aperture, such as around f/2.8-f/5.6.
  • The Shutter Release Button, is the button you click to take the image.
  • The Command Dial is the vertical dial on the top of the camera. Turning this affects the shutter speed.

NOTE: to get the best image, shoot in Manual Mode. To turn on this mode, turn the horizontal dial to select the "M". The dial will look something like the image above.

Step 2: Settings

NOTE: There is not one answer on the settings you should use. Depending on the light in your location, the settings you will need change.

  1. Setting the ISO - If you are in a setting with low light, choose a high ISO number. If you are in a setting with dim light, choose a low ISO number.
    1. You camera has a circle of buttons on the back. Click the one labeled ISO, use the two buttons on the left and right of the circle of buttons to switch between ISO numbers. When you have found the one you ant to use, press the button labeled "set" in the middle of the circles.

TIP: The above, second image shows a numbered meter that goes from -3 to 3. As you turn the dial to change Shutter Speed and Aperture, a small white line should move below the meter. By changing the Shutter Speed and Aperture until the white line is in the middle of the meter under the "0", you should get a clear image.

  1. Shutter Speed - To change the shutter speed, turn the command dial, next to the Shutter Release Button.
  2. Aperture - To change the aperture turn the command dial AT THE SAME TIME hold down the button that says "Av".

Step 3: Taking the Image/Final Product

When the settings are in place, press the Shutter Release button, and you will have your portrait image!

Above is an example of a portrait taken following these instructions.