3. USE A TELEPHOTO LENSTelephoto lenses can help eliminate background distractions by cropping out most of the surroundings and allowing your subject to dominate the frame. Depth of field also decreases as focal length increases, softening the background.
Another benefit of telephoto lenses is that they "compress" the perspective, making objects closer to the lens appear smaller relative to objects farther from the lens. In portrait photography, this has the often pleasing effect of reducing the prominence of your subject's nose and reducing the "nose-to-ear" distance. A telephoto lens also allows you to work at a comfortable distance from your model. Telephoto zooms give you compositional flexibility, too.
4. TRY SOFTWARE EFFECTSThough it's always preferable to get the shot as close to perfect as possible with your camera and lens, you have options for cleaning up your backgrounds with software. Though this means more computer work—and things can look weird if you're not careful—software can help when you captured the perfect expression in a less than perfect environment. If you have skill with masking in Photoshop, you might apply a soft blur to the background manually; or there are excellent software plug-ins dedicated to creating more pleasing portrait backgrounds.
Try these tips—by themselves or working together—for subject-flattering, pro-quality portraits.