When Pictures Paint a Thousand Words

Portrait photography is probably the best kind of photography that defines human interest. Although it may seem to be the most accessible area of photography compared to others, portrait photography appeals to many people and photographers alike because it is quite exciting and challenging.

Since it’s all about taking people’s photos, a portrait photographer should possess a genuine interest in people that would eventually become their subjects. They should care about people and are natural conversationalists to break the ice.

Above all else, portrait photographers should also possess the skill to observe their subjects’ characteristic gestures and expressions and can quickly identify a person’s best side and angle.

Getting Started

If you think you have what it takes to be a portrait photographer, then you should familiarize yourself with the different areas of portraiture. There are different types of portrait photography, depending on the usage or purpose.

Some common categories of portrait photography include:

  • amateur portraits of friends and family,
  • people in a social gathering,
  • editorial portraiture for newspapers, magazines and other publications’ use,
  • fine art portraiture for display in museums and galleries,
  • formal portraits where subjects pose for a photograph, and
  • informal portraits or ‘action shots’ where the people do not intentionally pose for the camera.
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Things to Consider and Reconsider

Many photographers would agree that the intention of the photographer is what sets a photograph apart from a portrait. If you would want to try portrait photography, here are some of the things you might want to consider:

1. Camera. In portraiture, any DSLR is fine. Never opt for a zoom point and shoot because it can’t provide a sharp outline and accurate results.

2. Lenses. There will be times that you need to emphasize or de-emphasize a specific feature of your subject at a certain distance. These are what the different kinds of lenses are for—to highlight or conceal any good or bad aspect of the person.

Typical portrait lenses that are between 90 and 135 millimetres long for DSLR cameras and both Nikon (AF-S 85mm f/1.4G or Z 85mm f/1.8 S) and Canon (EF 85mm f1.4L IS USM or EF 85mm f/1.8 USM), have some of the best portrait lenses available in the market.  

3. Location. An ideal location for any portrait photography shoot is a studio. Aside from providing enough working space to work at, having a photo studio also ensures the safety of your equipment. But if you can’t set up a studio yet, it is advisable to find a space that can provide you with a working area.

In setting up a studio, consider the rental cost, size, accessibility to your target market and the facilities offered. If you take environmental portraits, you wouldn’t need a studio that much because your shoots will depend on the surroundings that create beautiful effects on your subject. 4. Lighting. If you have a portrait studio, consider the sources of light that would flatter your subjects. If your shoot is outdoors, it is advisable to choose an overcast day to avoid shadows in your photos.

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