Looking for Valentine's Day Gift Ideas for Him and Her? What about the gift of a beautiful portrait of your sweetheart? You don't need any fancy gear to achieve professional-looking results--just your starter DSLR and the kit lens that usually comes with it, and a little creativity. Yes, it's true that with a typical maximum aperture of f/5.6 you won't get the kind of flattering focus fall-off you'd get with a wide aperture telephoto, but if you're willing to make a few minor adjustments in post-production using full Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, you can create a beautiful portrait of your sweetie that looks like it was made with high-end gear--just in time for Valentine's day.
Gear: Just the Basics
You can do this with any DSLR and 18-55mm (if you're using an APS sensor) lens, which is typically packaged with a beginner or mid-range camera. The Nikon D3200, Canon EOS Rebel T3, and Sony Alpha A3000 are among many DSLRs bundled with kit lenses. While not absolutely necessary, you may want to use a tripod such as the 3Pod P5CRH, and/or a compatible wireless off-camera TTL flash with a diffuser such as the 16x16-inch Glow Pop Soft Box for Shoe Mount Flashes. If you have nice, broad window lighting, you don't necessarily need a flash. If you're shooting at night or in a basement studio, you will need to bring your own diffused light.
Lighting: Go Big Or Go Home
If you don't wish to invest in a flash yet, scout out a location with lots of diffused light.Experiment! Try different positions and see how the light falls. Experiment with posing, having the model face the light, or away from it, and see how the light and shadow work on her face. Keep in mind the line going down the face down the ridge of the nose is a good divider between dark and light sides, with the interplay of light and dark in the shadows creating a more dramatic effect. This approach is known as Rembrandt lighting, and is often used by professional portrait photographers.
If you are using a flash with a diffuser, place the flash and diffuser about a foot or two away from your subject's face. Don't worry about light fall-off, since this is going to be a head-and-shoulders portrait.
By Mason Resnick. See the full article here: http://www.adorama.com/alc/0014524/article/valentines-day-photo-tips