Depth of Field

There is no "right" answer for your depth of field in an image. You can shoot a successful fashion image at f/22 or f/1.2. That being said, a lot of successful fashion images shot on location are shot at wide apertures. The aperture you shoot at depends completely on the scene and the artistic effect you are trying to achieve. Many location fashion images are shot at f/2.8 aperture and wider. I love shooting at f/1.4 or f/1.8. It gives me just enough focus for the face/body, while providing a nice blurry background. It seems to be a sweet spot for me and my portraits.

If you have the opportunity, consider trying a camera with f/1.2 capabilities. When photographing your subject at such a narrow depth of field, the eyes may be in focus while the lips will be out of focus. It is an incredibly narrow sliver of focus, but it can be useful when you're photographing in a distracting environment or you're trying to achieve a dreamy effect, as seen in Figure 6.18. The complete out-of-focus branches in front of and behind the subject are only a few feet from the subject, but because of the 1.2 lens, they become soft and create a dreamlike atmosphere. If I had been shooting with greater depth of field, the branches would have become distracting elements in the frame.

Figure 6.18

Having an extremely narrow depth of field can create a quiet and dreamlike scene. This image was shot with a 1.2 lens, blurring out detail in the foreground and background.

Foreground Background Figure Picture

Figure 6.18

Having an extremely narrow depth of field can create a quiet and dreamlike scene. This image was shot with a 1.2 lens, blurring out detail in the foreground and background.

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