When photographing people, try to pose them in a way that's not too staged or fake. Try to keep your subject relaxed by giving them something to hold onto eg. a glass, a newspaper etc. Sit your subject down and keep them talking so they're not focusing on the camera and feel more relaxed.
Use a wide aperture 2.8 to 4 so you'll have a very shallow depth of field to make the face slightly soft and avoid any distracting objects in the background. The focus should be on eye closest to the camera. When making a portrait of a woman try and avoid having strong shadows on her face. Any shadows should be soft and compliment the shape of her face. For a man the shadows can be stronger to create a more chiseled masculine feel to the photograph.
Angles and Viewpoints
Straight on - at eye level the photograph doesn't over emphasize any particular part of the subject. Especially useful when photographing kids.
- From Sslightly Above - makes the subject look more passive or even sultry. Body shape becomes stronger and the focus on the eyes becomes greater.
- From Slightly Below - can make the subject appear somewhat aloof or dominant.
- From Below - A full length portrait from this position emphasizes power and dominance. A wide angle lens can exaggerate this effect further but use sparingly.