What is a portrait? Portraits are one of most common forms of photography. However, “what is a portrait?” is such a vague question because a portrait could be defined as many things. An official dictionary definition of the word describes a portrait as “a painting, drawing, photograph, or engraving of a person, especially one depicting only the face or head and shoulders (Merriam Webster).” The photographer’s aim is to give prominence to the face of the person because this will be the focus and story of the photograph. However, this doesn’t mean that the person’s body cannot be included. Under portrait photography, the body language and background of the photograph are important, but the most emphasis should be on the person’s face, facial expression, and distinct facial features. Although this is an accurate description of what a portrait is in general, a portrait is so much more than that to me.
As a student photographer and someone who loves to take photos, I believe a portrait is something that can portray who a person really is. My favorite kind of photographs to look at (as well as take), are the kind where you can look at them and they capture you. I love to look at a photo that makes me want to know more about the person in it. I love when I can see their emotions and feelings right across their face. There is nothing more beautiful than a photograph of a bride holding her bouquet on her wedding day when you can just see how happy and in love she is. However, I also love when you have to analyze the photo a bit deeper and realize what it is truly about. A portrait that conveys a message is the most intriguing. A portrait doesn’t have to be of someone beautiful or someone skinny. For me, it just has to be unique, or tell a story about an individual.
One of the most frequent misconceptions about portrait photography is that it is solely just a snapshot of a person. It is confusing because that actually is a type of style in portrait photography. However, portraiture is mainly a “rehearsed” image of a person. The photographer preps the subject on how to pose, and usually the photography session and all of the details surrounding it are discussed between the subject and photographer beforehand.
There are so many different kinds of portraits. There are portraits taken for newspapers, identification, and merchandising. There are also portraits taken for special occasions, such as Christmas cards, weddings, and high school graduations. Unlike most photography styles, the subjects of portrait photography are often non-professional models. Ordinary people such as mothers, fathers, and children, as well as any person on the street,...