What is portrait photography? The human face has consistently been one of the most intriguing and inspirational subjects to draw inspiration from and represent in art for as long as people have been creating it. Nothing is different when it comes to photography, where portraiture is one of the profession’s pillars.
Many photographers have started exploring portraiture since it can be done in infinite ways and take on a wide range of formats.
Continue reading if you want to learn more about what it takes to become a professional portrait photographer.
What is Portrait Photography?
The simplest definition of portrait photography is a form of photography that focuses on capturing individuals while attempting to tell a narrative or evoke an emotion. But like all forms of photography, taking a strong portrait requires much more than simply aiming the camera and pressing the shutter. Let’s move on to the specifics of portrait photography now that you better understand its definition or purpose.
Understanding your Portrait Subject
Before the shot is taken, during the pre-production phase, one of the most crucial elements of portraiture takes place. Many great portraits are indeed snapped with little to no planning. However, understanding your client’s or subject’s objectives can help you produce the greatest portrait possible, especially for professional portrait photographers. This will have an effect on the clothes you suggest they wear, the hair, makeup, and other style concerns, the setting, the lighting, and finally the poses or expressions you hope to capture.
Creating the Portrait’s Backdrop
Understanding how to use the set, styling, lighting, and other equipment to achieve the type of image you are striving for is another essential skill in the field of portrait photography. Backdrops are widely used in portrait photography, which may be beneficial because they allow you to take pictures in places that might not otherwise be particularly appealing or appropriate.
You might recall the background options on picture day at school. Still, nowadays, there are more sophisticated options like colorful seamless backdrops in almost any color you can think of or backdrops with different patterns or settings.
Without a backdrop, portraits can also be taken in-person, but choosing the right place for the image is part of the work. A family image could be taken in the living room or in a picturesque field, whereas a LinkedIn profile picture for a tech professional might be better suited to an inviting, well-lit workplace or lobby.
Lighting is equally crucial since it can be used strategically to produce a very different final product.
Top 10 types of Portrait Photography to Test Out
- Traditional portraits
The main goal of traditional photography is to record the subject’s expression and feelings. This traditional method of portraiture has the subject staring directly into the lens, and it’s frequently done in a simple studio environment. Instead of the entire body, the subject’s head and shoulders are typically the focal points of these photographs.
- Candid portraits
The subject of a candid portrait looks to be (and typically is) oblivious that they are being photographed. No posing is done in candid photos; they are spontaneous. It can provide the sharp perception of a subject’s true emotions.
- Lifestyle portraits
Photographers who specialize in lifestyle portraiture catch people going about their daily lives. Brands frequently employ this aesthetic in their advertising in an effort to motivate consumers to adopt the lifestyle that is portrayed.
- Glamour portraits
Glamour portraiture focuses on portraying the subject’s natural beauty, which can have a seductive and sensuous feel. This kind of portrait photography frequently entails meticulous hair, makeup, and clothing styling.
- Conceptual portraits
Conceptual portraiture is enigmatic and ambiguous, and its intended meaning is frequently not immediately apparent. Through a portrait, they attempt to convey a message or idea. Post-production is crucial in achieving the required effects and producing a dreamlike final.
Self-portraits are the biggest challenge for a photographer because you are the only subject. It can be challenging to let your guard down when using your camera, but doing so will force you to step outside of your comfort zone and experiment with new compositions and photographic techniques.
- Close up portraits
Macro or close-up portraiture entails taking extremely close-up pictures of a topic or component of a subject, typically the eye. The best results come from talking to the topic and calming them down because you’ll be extremely close to them.
- Group portraits
The most typical group photographs are those of families and couples. Photographs of multiple subjects are more challenging to take than photographs of a single subject. More people need to participate in the shot by posing together.
- Environmental portraits
Environmental portraiture aims to capture your subject in a setting that has personal significance for them. This could occur in their garden, favorite restaurant, or any other location with which they are familiar. The position, lighting, subject, and background in an environmental portrait should all work well together and be arranged before the shot.
- Pet portraits
Your animal buddies can also participate in portrait photography; it’s not just reserved for human subjects. As more pet owners explore ways to immortalize their pets’ personalities, pet portrait photography is becoming more popular. Additionally, individuals enjoy posting pictures of their pets on social media.
Tips for Portrait Photography
The following photography tips might help you improve your images and turn your average photographs into extraordinary ones:
- Make your light source diffuse. When choosing a location, keep in mind that the ideal lighting for taking portraits is soft, diffused natural light from an indirect source. Direct, harsh light or full sun can produce unwanted dark shadows or abnormal skin hues. Use a diffuser like a softbox or a white sheet to soften the light and create a more pleasing image.
- Invest in a longer lens. A 50mm lens is regarded as a mid-range telephoto lens and is a popular choice among portrait photographers as a common focal length. However, its length results in a recognizable and commonplace scene. To achieve greater image compression without distorting the pixels, use a longer lens, such as one in the 85mm to 200mm range. A longer lens length can produce a more dynamic image by bringing the background closer to the subject and enhancing the bokeh (background blur).
- Change your position. By breaking the rule of thirds and taking pictures from unorthodox angles or even at your subject’s eye level, you can give your pictures a fresh viewpoint. Try shooting pictures of your figure from various angles and distances. To find the most attractive angle for your model’s portrait, try shooting from above or from the side, experimenting with different poses, or even taking a spontaneous photo.
- Own lighting is recommended. Although the camera’s flash is crucial for adding light to your images, it sometimes falls short of your requirements. Some flash can make a subject’s face appear washed out and disproportionate, especially if it is utilized in a close-up headshot. By altering the lighting, you may improve contrast and manage shadows in your portraiture to create more visually engaging and dynamic images. Outdoor portrait photography benefits greatly from natural light, although direct sunshine can occasionally be too bright. You can produce the beautifully lighted shot by using your own lighting while underexposing the available light with external strobes.
- Aperture change. A shallow depth of field created by a large aperture will blur the backdrop and make your subject the main focus. However, a smaller aperture will keep everyone in focus if you have multiple subjects (such as a family photo).
- Use props. Shoot through foreground elements like vegetation or structures to give your picture a more dynamic feel. An interesting aesthetic element can be added to your photo by using a longer lens to blur the foreground objects and focus attention on your subjects. While shooting through something like a fence can provide a fascinating framing for your subject, shooting through transparent items can create unusual patterns or reflections. For a more dynamic arrangement, take a picture of your subject between two branches or via a store window.
- Apply gels. Gels can be used to adjust the color temperature or mood of your portraits. You might need to modify your light temps if your photo shoot is resulting in abnormal skin tones or strange color casts. A color temperature orange (CTO) gel may be useful if you’re shooting on a cloudy day to warm the surroundings. On the other hand, you could wish to use a color temperature blue (CTB) gel to cool down your photographs if they appear overly warm. Plan your environment accordingly by considering the type of shot you want to take and the required temperature.
- Editing and post-processing should be completed. Your scenario can get the final look it requires by using editing tools to retouch and enhance your images. Learn about editing applications and their features to advance your portrait photography, whether you need to crop out an unwelcome edge, remove a disturbing shadow, or alter the background of your shot.
You may vary your portfolio and increase your photographic creativity by being aware of the various types of portrait photography.
One or two of the aforementioned approaches are frequently where portrait shooters shine. But it’s necessary to experiment with every kind of photography before deciding which best suits your needs if you want to learn and improve your abilities.
FAQs on What is Portrait Photography
What is portraited photography meaning?
A highly well-known and well-liked genre of photography is portraiture. This type of photography focuses on using the background environment, positions, and lighting to convey a subject’s individuality, identity, soul, and emotions.
What are the characteristics of portrait photography?
Portrait photos frequently feature a shallow depth of field, which means the person is clearly in focus while the background is somewhat out of focus. In order to best direct the subject during the photo shoot, portrait shots are typically planned, staged, and practiced.
What makes a portrait unique?
A clear photojournalistic story can be as simple as a gorgeous photograph, a stunning location, or something more emotive. The personal depth that is added to photos makes them stand out from the crowd. Including more important information (or omitting some?) draws the audience into the narrative you are presenting.