What is a Portrait?

What do you think a portrait is?

  • Is it an image that depicts a person
  • Is is a representation of a person
  • An essence of someone?

The best thing to do when photographing a person is to get to know them before hand, find out something about them. This then helps you figure out the character of this person and the everyday details of this person.

Where are portraits found?

  • Magazines
  • Books
  • Internet
  • Adverts
  • Family Albums
  • ID cards
  •  Passports
  • Galleries
  • Publications

Depending on the commissioner, there might be specific elements in the portrait that is needed, so does this actually make it a portrait of a persons character? My answer is no! You are taking away that persons essence and applying a new essence to accomplish the desired look. Especially if a portrait is needed for a magazine or advert.

So who are the commissioners exactly and why?

Well it can range from:

  • A Company – To sell or advertise a product
  • The family of the person – So they can have photographic reminders of their families past
  • Even the Photographer – As they may have an idea in which they would look for the specific look that is needed

However, what does a portrait have to include?

If a portrait is an essence of a person, does that mean the person has to actually be in the photograph? My answer is no! As long as you are including items that is relevant to that persons personality or something that has significant meaning to them, this can be classed as a portrait. However if you want to include the person in the portrait, who says you have to have all of them in the frame. You could do close ups of parts of their face, as everything they have is unique and makes them who they are.


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