Portrait-Photography with Tabita Cargnel and the LUMIX GX8

Hi! My name is Tabita Cargnel, I am 23 years old and a student of architecture in Darmstadt. I was always very interested in the arts. Over the last couple of years, I specialized in portrait photography and I would say that natural and expressive portraits are my strong point. In this story I would like to give you a quick workshop with helpful tips and tricks for those of you who are interested in portrait photography as well. So let’s get started!

A very nice effect for almost every portrait is the “Bokeh-effect”. With “Bokeh” I mean the soft and blurry background which gives the image a nice and atmospheric look.

To create the “Bokeh-effect” you need a strong fixed focal length. My favorite lense for that is the LEICA 25mm / F1.4. The small size, the sharpness and the speed or shutter speed are only some of the many advantages of a fixed focal lense. For a nice blurry effect you should use a low aperture (F-number) in order to catch as much light as possible.

Another tip is to get close to your motif so that it almost fills the complete screen. That way you can completely  focus on the model and capture a nice and expressional portrait. In fact the “Bokeh-effect” provides a soft and quiet background so that the sharp and crisp motif in the foreground is perfectly staged. A good composition for a wonderful portrait.

After explaining the importance of the “Bokeh-effect” I would like to show you how to capture your motif the best way. One significant part is to find the right settings for focusing on the perfect spots. That can be tricky. Personally for me I prefer focusing the eyes. The best is to focus the eye which is closer to the camera. Another tip is to use the AFS-mode (Autofocus Single Shot) for your portrait shoot. With the AFS-mode you can manually define the size and location of your focus point on the touchscreen of your LUMIX camera. It can’t be any easier.

Another mode you can use for a perfect focus is the Face detection mode. With the “Face detection mode” the camera automatically detects the face and focusses the eye closer to the camera. That setting is really helpful when you shoot frontal and the face is clearly recognizable.  Otherwise I would use the AFS-mode and set the focus manually.

Both versions are super easy and deliver great images.

I think we are all familiar with that situation: You planned a perfect photo shooting and were looking forward to some great results, then the weather seems to ruin everything. But no worries. I have some helpful advice for you!

For me a slightly clouded sky is perfect weather for a good shoot. That way the light is super soft and delivers great images. Moreover if you can’t see the sun doesn’t mean that you can’t capture it in your pictures.

Just use the filter “sunshine” which is one of the many filters on your LUMIX camera. To get the most out of the filter you should consider the following things:

Where is your source of light? The sunlight should be in the background shining into your camera.

How big should the flare be, where should it be located and what color is best? You can set all those adaptions in the menu of your LUMIX camera.

The sunshine-effect is a really helpful setting and provides a nice and atmospheric look. Just play with it a little bit and find the perfect settings for your sunny picture on a cloudy day.

Next on the agenda is the manual mode. Don’t be afraid of the many settings and varieties. Sometimes it is even a little bit easier to set up the exposure manually then automatically. Moreover the manual mode gives you the maximal control over ISO, Aperture, and the Exposure. With your individual settings the pictures turn out just the way you want.

A big advantage of the LUMIX GX8 is that the camera delivers a preview of your image while choosing the setting. That way you see how the different settings effect your image. Here are some helpful tricks I would like to mention:

The order in which you choose the setting is very important. First, set up your Aperture, then your exposure and last but not least you ISO.

My favorite aperture is F 1.4. With a low aperture you can catch as much light as possible and create a nice, blurry background (“Bokeh-effect”)

A short exposure. Models are moving objects and it is important to catch as many expressions and movements as possible. So use a short exposure for sharp and nice images.

Use a low ISO value in a bright environment. The brighter the light the lower the ISO.


While experimenting with the manual mode don’t be afraid of the many numbers on your screen. You will find the perfect setting with “Learning by Doing”.

Last but not least I would like to tell you something about image editing. Even during the shoot you can create a final edited picture out of the camera. That saves you time afterwards and presents you final and great results right away. One of the most important things about camera internal editing is to save all pictures in RAW and JPEG. Because only the JPEG images will adapt during the editing process.

The first step is to choose the right camera setting. With the setting “Visual Style” you can decide how the camera is changing and saving the JPEG images. For the “Visual Style” you manually have to define the “contrast”, “definition” and “chroma” for your images.

Another setting photographers like to work with is the “Gradation Curve”. With the “Gradation Curve” you can modulate the contrast settings even more accurately. You will find the setting in your camera menu under “brightness distribution”. I prefer to use a “Gradutation Curve” which is shaped like a S-form.

Moreover the “White balance” is a really important setting. The “White balance” defines if your images look cold, neutral or warm. For most of my shootings I am using the warm white balance. It gives the image a nice and warm effect and makes skin impurities disappear. In some situations you can even use the automatic “White balance” and get great results.

For me the camera internal editing has many advantages. It saves a lot of time, you can adapt all settings during the shoot to see what’s best for the situation and moreover you get the final edited images out of the camera. Great results right after the shooting!