You cannot shoot a portrait handheld at 1/15th second. And you cannot shoot a portrait at f/1.4.
So that was shot as follows:
- Canon 1D Mk4
- 35mm prime lens (equivalent, therefore, to around 45mm)
- TTL Flash (580EX) bounced 45 degrees up, behind me
- Flash equipped with a half CTO gel; white balance set to “Tungsten”
- 1/15th second at f/1.4, ISO 400
Wonderful background bokeh, no? And don’t you love the vignetting that this lens gives me wide open?
Of course, if you shoot at f/1.4, be careful that what you need in focus is in one plain (the camera and the face, here). And at 1/15th, handhold carefully and use fl;ash (1/1000th) to light your subjext.
So yes you can do it, and it’s probably best to sometimes push boundaries a little, and let go of rules of thumb, useful as they may generally be.