People love to take portraits. A portrait is a captured likeness of the subject, in this case a person, especially their face. Portrait photography however has a deeper connotation than that, being understood as a superior quality image, capturing the individual’s physical likeness, their character on a digital or film camera’s sensor. It is also understood that portrait photography produces pleasing and attractive results to the person being the subject.
Character revelation is the focus of portrait photography. At least one element of the subject must be shown in the photo. Elements may include the subject’s attitude, personality, unique mannerisms, and any other traits or features that shape the very unique nature of the person. The portrait photograph tells the viewer something that suggests the subject’s individuality.
It is oftentimes that a viewer expresses agreeableness that the photographer really captured the subject’s likeness, in which may be referred to as their exact physical likeness. However, what one is consciously saying about them is that the photo reveals something that is very identifiable of the character of the subject. Portrait photography therefore is not mere capturing of the image likeness, but arresting the true character deeply formed in the subject; a task that can be challenging as photographers as they may never have known the subject before.
How do you capture these character traits?
Each individual has unique characteristics, traits, attitudes, and features. However, not all people are the same when it comes to expressing them. There are just some who can easily convey their individual character or trait with immediate transparency. Others, on the other hand, have difficulty in doing the same.
For the portrait photographer, it would be easier to deal with the former type. But for the latter, it will take more work and proficiency to study the true essence of the subject otherwise it can be hard transporting this essence into the portrait.
Having said that portrait photography isn’t only about taking shots but rather it involves studying one’s character, like observing for signals displaying the subject’s mannerisms, expressions, body language, and even reactions. It will take a lot of skill and understanding for the photographer to do that, but such is required to reveal the true character of the subject. Engaging them into conversation is one way of doing it.
Finding a common ground for a topic can begin the studying of a person’s likeness. It can be any subject, so long as the subject is cooperating and opening up. Creating a rapport is also another important way to do it. It easily makes the subject more comfortable in your presence, and therefore makes them more natural looking when you start taking photos of them.
When do you start taking pictures?
You can begin right away once you find the subject is comfortable and relaxed. Starting right away can begin the tension to set in the subject, therefore, making it hard for them to be at ease or settle down just yet. They may look posed in the pictures, but often they can result in a portrait lacking the subject’s true essence. Rushing portrait photography is never a good idea. And unless you knew the subject very well and are already comfortable working with you, you can begin right away. In the case of portrait photography, it works best by using your best judgment before executing any shots.