I love making eyes the focal points of my photos. Besides being windows to the soul and all that jazz, eyes are great to photograph. There are so many amazing details to capture in such a small space – flecks of color, eyelashes, and reflections.


There are a million different photo editing programs out there that you can use to artificially make eyes stand out in a photo. There’s definitely a time and place for that, but in this tutorial I’m going to show you how to make eyes the focus of a photograph with as little post-processing as possible.

If you’re taking a straight out portrait or head shot, you want to keep the background simple. I took some pictures of my brother and I posed him in front of an outdoor wall at my parents’ house. The simple background makes sure Kyle is the focus of the photo:


Zooming in or cropping is another great way to narrow the focus of a photo. In the above photo of Kyle, there is still a lot to look at. So I cropped the picture:


Now his face IS the photo. With his eyes placed where the top third of the photo starts, the viewer is drawn there immediately. POP!

Sometimes, the photos that make eyes pop the most are the ones that have gorgeous bokeh. For the longest time I thought bokeh was a made up word because it sounds so weird. But, it’s a real photography term for the area that is out of focus in your pictures. This picture of Kyle has gorgeous bokeh:


The blurry (or bokeh) background with the clear subject (Kyle) really makes this picture awesome. On top of that, the colors of the green trees mixed with the blue sky help his eyes look amazing (it doesn’t hurt that he already has pretty nice eyes). To get great bokeh with a point and shoot camera, set your camera to “portrait.” Your camera will know to focus on the foreground, and will automatically blur the background. On a DSLR, put your camera in Aperture Priority mode and put the aperture on the lowest number your lens allows (like f/1.4 or f/3.5).

Do you have tips to help make eyes pop in photographs?? Leave them in the comments. Then, upload your favorite examples to the TSAM Photo Fun Flickr group so we can compliment and learn from each other (If you don’t have a flickr account, just link to your photos in the comments).

Any questions? Fire away!

Want more tips? You can find them here thanks to HP, my awesome photo partners.