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What is Portrait Photography ?


pulsar69 10 1.6k 6 United Kingdom
14 May 2013 9:10PM
This came up in a discussion tonight and would be interested to hear others views , someone asked me to take a portrait and I explained that whilst I am a photographer and can take a portrait style photo my skill is in documentary style wedding photography and landscapes which are my passions, therefore a portrait would be best taken by a portrait photographer perhaps in a portrait studio.

I then began to questions what i see as a 'portrait' and found myself asking the font of all knowledge which to my surprise agreed with my 'perception'

quote from wiki :
A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person. For this reason, in photography a portrait is generally not a snapshot, but a composed image of a person in a still position. A portrait often shows a person looking directly at the painter or photographer, in order to most successfully engage the subject with the viewer.

So then , you portrait photographers and studio guys , do you agree ? or is this a very old take on the world and portraits are now something much more lively and expressive ?

To me really capturing someones personality requires them not to realize you are doing it ?

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arhb e2
7 2.4k 68 United Kingdom
14 May 2013 9:44PM
I read once that a well-known portrait photographer used to make her subjects, some of whom are well known personalities,
sit on uncomfortable chairs or surfaces, as the discomfort eventually bought out an emotional aspect of their personalities that they wouldn't normally have displayed.
scottishphototours 10 2.5k 2 Scotland
14 May 2013 10:15PM
Portrait photographers use a studio (with the associated costs)...those without a studio advertise themselves as "lifestyle" photographers.
JackAllTog e2
5 3.7k 58 United Kingdom
14 May 2013 10:22PM
To me a portrait is to portray a likeness to one or more aspects of a persons character, it can of course portray selective aspects.
I take lots of people photo's but generally I'm aiming for selective emphasis of beauty or pose and not character or likeness - so I'm not typically a portrait photographer.
arhb e2
7 2.4k 68 United Kingdom
14 May 2013 10:44PM

Quote:Portrait photographers use a studio (with the associated costs)...those without a studio advertise themselves as "lifestyle" photographers.


I think a good location can add greatly to the atmosphere and feeling of a portrait, which is something that cannot be achieved in a studio.
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.7k 6 England
14 May 2013 11:08PM
It could be a whole lot of different settings and not necessarily in studio.

http://www.featureshoot.com/2013/04/portraits-of-an-all-female-fighting-unit-of-the-free-syrian-army/
pulsar69 10 1.6k 6 United Kingdom
14 May 2013 11:09PM
To be able to 'Portray' the character of an individual you have only just met in the confinements of a studio atmosphere is undoubtedly a challenge. Just to get people to relax with the camera about and be themselves can in itself be difficult.

Following on from arhb's quote, what unusual methods or tactics do you employ in getting inside your subjects persona ?
pulsar69 10 1.6k 6 United Kingdom
14 May 2013 11:15PM

Quote:It could be a whole lot of different settings and not necessarily in studio.

http://www.featureshoot.com/2013/04/portraits-of-an-all-female-fighting-unit-of-the-free-syrian-army/



I am not a great fan of sensationalist photography and this to me is just that , technically and artistically those photos are nothing special and I can see no reason to give any credit to the photographer other than they were there at the time. Are we supposed to be shocked to see a Mother with a gun ? Impressed by the black and white ? I would have rather have seen a real portrait or candid image of these ladies taken naturally.
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.7k 6 England
14 May 2013 11:18PM

Quote:Following on from arhb's quote, what unusual methods or tactics do you employ in getting inside your subjects persona ?


I once photographed a toddler wearing a werewolf mask, only because the kids mother told me he was afraid of clowns, the kid ended up taking his first steps Smile
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.7k 6 England
14 May 2013 11:37PM

Quote:It could be a whole lot of different settings and not necessarily in studio.

http://www.featureshoot.com/2013/04/portraits-of-an-all-female-fighting-unit-of-the-free-syrian-army/

I am not a great fan of sensationalist photography and this to me is just that , technically and artistically those photos are nothing special and I can see no reason to give any credit to the photographer other than they were there at the time. Are we supposed to be shocked to see a Mother with a gun ? Impressed by the black and white ? I would have rather have seen a real portrait or candid image of these ladies taken naturally.



The point is its real and not something you will see every day, some have there faces covered some don`t, this alone speaks volumes.

For me a portrait needs to portray a person in a current state in a natural setting, for these woman these portraits work.
DouglasMorley 4 16 1 Canada
15 May 2013 1:41AM
Karsh of Ottawa took the famous portrait of Churchill during the dark days of the early second world war by snatching the prime minister's cigar from his mouth, thereby eliciting a scowl which was exactly the image required for the also famous 'bulldog attitude' to give courage to the nation.

This is brilliant portrait photography which has gone down in history well enough to be featured on Bank of England bank notes right now. No mean feat after 70 years.
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.7k 6 England
15 May 2013 2:06AM
Yes Karsh
Carabosse e2
11 39.5k 269 England
15 May 2013 2:44AM
I only take portraits outdoors. Smile
Gaucho e2
12 2.3k 2 United Kingdom
15 May 2013 7:37AM
You could do worse than to study Jane Bown's work.
DouglasMorley 4 16 1 Canada
15 May 2013 6:01PM
Documentary photographer Dorothea Lange took another very famous portrait in 1936 'Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California' as part of a series commissioned by the Farm Security Administration of the USA.

Looking at the image I could not imaging a personality, mood or circumstance more well 'portrayed'

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