Here’s a short article that’s full of tips to help you take better portrait pictures with your standard or ‘kit‘ lenses. Most often DSLR cameras with APS-C size sensors, also called 1.5x or 1.6x crop sensors, are supplied with an 18-55mm or 18-70mm lens. Like all elements of photography understanding how to make the most of what you have is often more rewarding and practical than simply buying more kit. Though buying more kit is also part of the fun isn’t it 🙂
I would add that if you want to shoot with the lens aperture wide open that it’s best to choose Aperture Priority mode on your camera as this lets you select the aperture and your camera will match with the appropriate shutter speed. For even more creative control and the chance to make some great mistakes and discoveries then Manual mode will also work fine. Some cameras have a Portrait mode that also will attempt to do similar things, but it’s often better to try Aperture priority to make sure you know what is actually happening to the aperture.