What Is Portrait Photography?
Portrait Photography is one of most common forms of photography. Portrait photography, which is also
called, more often than not, portraiture, is the art of capturing a subject (in this case, a person or a group
of people) in which the face, facial features as well as facial expressions are made predominant. What
photographers or portraiture photographers aim is to focus on the persons face. They aim to give
emphasis on the face of the person because this will also be the focus or the emphasis of the photograph.
This does not mean, however, that the persons body or even the background will no longer be included.
Under portrait photography, these can still be included in the photo by the portrait photographer but
again, the focus or the emphasis should be on the persons face, facial expression and even distinct facial
One of the common misconceptions about portrait photography is that it is but a snapshot or a
photograph of a person. This is not true. In portrait photography or portraiture, a composed or rehearsed
image of a person in a still position is captured. This basically means that the portrait photographer would
prep the subject and the subject would have a specific position and angle. Of course, the rehearsal and
all the details surrounding it should be discussed between the subject and portrait photographer
Usually, portraiture involves the subject (again, in this case, the person to be take a photo of) looking
directly into the portrait photographers camera. In the early days, all of the subjects in portraitures
looked into the lens of the portrait photographers camera. These days, however, many portrait
photographers as well as subjects of these portraitures experiment. Many now have portraits wherein
they do not directly look at the camera. Some also have distinct angles that they want captures thats why
they sit in a specific position in front of the camera as well. Again, these new and recent styles in portrait
photography are based on the portrait photographers tips and recommendations and more importantly,
based on the preference of the subject.
Unlike other photography styles, the subjects of portrait photography or portraiture are often non-
professional models. This means that ordinary people such as fathers, mothers, their kids, businessmen
and even the local man on the street can be subjects in portraitures.
There are no boundaries or rules when it comes to portrait photography. Truth be told, thats what makes
portrait photography easy and difficult at the same time! Easy because just about anybody with a point
and shoot camera can do a portraiture but difficult because when you need a professional portrait taken,
you must rely on professional portrait photographers. More on this later in this article.
There are essentially four (4) approaches when it comes to portrait photography or portraiture: 1) the
constructionist, 2) candid approach, 3) environmental approach and 4) the creative approach.
For the constructionist approach, this is where the portrait photographer builds a certain ambience for
the total look of the portrait. For instance, the photographer, with the consent of the subject/s of course,
would develop an idea around the portrait smiling, happy couple, for one. A confident new graduate. An
honest looking business executive. A blushing bride whos so eager to start her new life. These are just a
few of the ideas that a portrait photographer can work on when developing a photo taken with the
constructionist approach in mind. The environmental approach, on the other hand, depicts the subject in
their surrounding or environment. For instance, in their work place. A portrait can be taken of the subject
being in his office, with a photo of his countrys president or of his favorite global leader as background.
Thirdly, the candid approach. This is where the subject is photographed without his or her knowledge,
hence, candid. One could most probably say that this is the informal type of portrait photography since
the subject does not look at the camera directly. However, a lot of portrait photographers like to use this
approach as its less invasive and can really capture a certain emotion. Lastly, the creative approach is
where digital manipulation is included in the process. The end result usually is a magical, very attractive
and visually appealing portrait.
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