Portrait photography involves capturing a person’s mood, focusing emphatically on the facial expression. The subjects of this photography are not necessarily professional models, as any kind of person can be focused upon. Portraiture is unlike swift snapshots, as the photographer has to adjust the subject for the relevant pose, particularly to look straight into the camera. A portrait professional should essentially have an eye for detail which is acquired with a lot of experience. Portrait photographs are taken just to add to an admirable collection of photos or used for other purposes. For instance, an author’s photo printed on a book is a portrait photo.
Humans are not an easy subject to capture on film, as the photographer has to pay detailed attention to the lighting conditions in accordance to the skin tone, color of the eyes, facial expressions and the background. Famous portrait photographers have set the trend in this field and their works obviously depict their passion for photography. Gertrude Kasebier, a twentieth century photographer strived to make likenesses that could serve as biographies to bring out the essential personality in each photograph. Some of the celebrities photographed by her include Booker T. Washington, Mark Twain and Auguste Roding.
Yousuf Karsh, a Canadian photographer, is known for his famous portrait of Winston Churchill, captured in 1941. Francesco Scavullo’s works are characterized by innovative lighting techniques and have found a place on the covers of magazines like ‘Rolling Stone’, ‘Seventeen’ and ‘Harper’s Bazaar.’ Edward S. Curtis, Edgar Degas and Carl Van Vechten are among the famous portrait photographers who were involved in self portraiture.
Cindy Sherman is among the well-known modern portrait photographers of America and is among the most paid women photographers. Diana Arbus, another famous woman photographer, focused on subjects that portrayed the darker sides of a society. In her artworks, she covered subjects, such as dwarfs, giants, transvestites, circus performers, etc. and she is renowned for her black-and-white portraiture. Her works, as well as those of her husband Allan’s works can be found on magazines like Glamour, Seventeen, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and a few others. She happens to the first American photographer, whose works were displayed at ‘Venice Biennale.’
A portrait professional employs expert techniques to capture the exact moment where the expression and emotion blend to create the best pictures. Some of the lighting methods used for this kind of photography include butterfly lighting, three-point lighting and sometimes window light is sufficient. Outdoor portraiture involves natural light and with latest technologies, the task is easily accomplished by setting the camera on the portrait mode. Nevertheless, the photographer should be aware of underexposure and overexposure, in order to employ the right lighting techniques. With advanced DSLRs, there are several tools to capture the expressions with close-up shots, which involve minute details of the eye, hair, eyebrows and even eyelids.
Family portrait photographs have retained their popularity ever since the debut of the camera, and they serve to keep alive the joyous fine moments of the bygone days. The invention of the camera during the nineteenth century opened the doors for portrait photography as an alternative to portrait paintings.