This section examines where and how to focus, techniques for fast focusing and techniques for getting sharper pictures.
Portrait photographers have an ally and an enemy when it comes to getting their pics sharp. The photographer is aided by the fact that portraits are usually achieved with high shutter speeds, thereby reducing the risk of camera shake. On the debit side, they are usually working with very narrow depths of field, so that the zone of sharpness may be as little as one centimetre. If the subject is not in that zone they will not be sharp!
Portrait focusing is critical, especially in head and shoulders or closer shots. The face needs to be sharp or at least part of the face. The bottom line is that the eyes must be very sharp in close-ups. Therefore the photographer needs to focus on the line between the white and the colour of the eye. That means manual focusing is necessary as auto-focus will rarely be accurate enough. Also, if the eyes are at different distances from the camera lens, then focus on the nearside eye.
For full-length shots, the focusing is not quite as critical and auto-focus is usually acceptable.