Portrait Project

Portrait photography is about capturing the unique qualities of your subject’s individual character. The best portraits carry and express a high level of attentiveness to the details of an individual’s posture and expression. It is the quality of detail and timing that makes portrait photography so compelling. There is an unspoken level of communication illustrated by the details of a good photograph. It is important to give yourself enough time to see these moments, to settle into composing the subject within the frame, and to stay with the subject for long enough to record their full range of expressions. Sometimes you can capture the character of your subject in a couple of shots, but you will probably need to take a succession of photographs over a period of time. It can take several shots before you begin to see the possibilities, and also before your subject relaxes and loses their initial self-consciousness. Very often you will find that the last images in a long series of shots capture the subject in their natural and expressive state. Always be ready for one more photograph!

Review the exploring props, masking identity, portrait/emotion, portrait/environment to assist you in this process. Additional background information on studio lighting can be found in the following links;multiple light portrait set-up, light sources for portraits. 

Before you photograph your ideas, complete some research upon this theme.

As a part of your research, post three images that use the portrait as the main subject by recognized professional photographer(s) onto your blog along with any information about the images.

Next, provide a plan of action to include:

  • Types of compositional devices you will be using to capture your images (rule-of-thirds, fill the frame, balance, lines, leading lines, symmetry, pattern, framing, point of perspective, follow the eye).
  • Who the subject(s) to your photo shoots will be. This can be the same person for the studio portrait and the environment pictures, or different people.

Consider the following when developing your ideas:

  • Portrait with props– What objects will be used, props/chair to be sat on, props to be worn, reveal the subject’s character, conceal the identity, props to be placed with the subject; surround, dominate, support, alter the portrait
  • Lighting– single light, front lighting, side lighting, high side lighting, top lighting, under lighting, back lighting, fill light, back drop lighting, spot light
  • Backdrop white, black, grey backdrop- Be sure to decide what your model(s) will be wearing to either contrast or blend in with the backdrop to suit your taste
  • Position frontal view, side view, three quarter view, back view, standing, sitting on a chair, sitting on the floor, reclining, laying
  • Detail Taking pictures of feet, toes, hands, fingers, legs, arms, torso- determine style of clothing, jewelry, shoes to be used for most interesting images
  • Camera position High/Low vantage point, eye level, at an angle, level
  • Multiple models It is advised that you use no more than two models for this project. The position of one model to the other, dominant model, one model out of focus, depth of field, overlapping figures in space The same ideas need to be considered with multiple models using detail
  • Mood- determine what mood to convey as clothing, lighting, and camera position is important

Below are several links to photographers to help you get started:

















Below is a Pinterest board of additional portrait photography examples:

Follow Matthew’s board photography portraits on Pinterest.
If you would like to use the photo studio outside of class time, please sign up with me.

Enclosed are some further tips in capturing images of the portrait:

  • The best types of focal lengths to shoot with portraits are between 85mm to 100mm. Lenses with these focal lengths are often called portrait lenses. They let you shoot from a good working distance, about 3-4 m from your subject and still fill the frame with your subject.
  • Focus directly on the subject’s eyes- they should be tack sharp. Portraits generally look best when you position your camera at the subject’s eye level. Position the subject’s eyes in the frame one-third of the way down from the top. You can also zoom in close so your subject’s face fills the entire frame.
  • The background for shooting outdoors should not be brighter than the subject. Keep the background as simple as possible. Remember, the person is the dominant subject in the picture not the background. You can also try and throw the background out of focus by opening up on your aperture to create a shallow depth of field.
  • When you shoot outdoors in the middle of the day, move your subject into the shade, where the light is softer and the shadows are less prominent. So, search for a place with indirect sunlight to provide the most optimal detail on your subject.
  • If you shoot portraits at sunset, start by turning off your flash and aim at the sky. Then hold your shutter button down halfway down, hold it and recompose the shot by aiming at your subject, but now turn the flash on and reveal your subject with the light of the flash. This is called a fill flash.

Once you have taken the environment and studio pictures, be sure to create a digital contact print and add it to your blog post of images of inspiration and the plan of action. The digital contact print should be a minimum of 40 pictures captured.

Review the videos on how to use the basic clean up tools, whiten teeth,  using a curve adjustment to modify tone, enhancing the eyes, and portrait cleanup to help with your editing.

Use the following link to find images of inspiration with a quote of the day: http://www.nitch.com/

Have the following in your blog post for this project:

  • 1 image of inspiration for studio portraits to include description and citation of source (photographer’s blog post and/or artist name; name of work)
  • 1 image of inspiration for environmental portrait to include description and citation of source (photographer’s blog post and/or artist name; name of work)
  • 2 images of inspiration that represents a quote of the day
  • 20 image digital contact print of studio portrait images taken with description of top choices
  • 20 image digital contact print of environmental portrait images with description of top choices
  • 2 final studio portrait images each with a quote of the day edited and saved for web
  • 2 final environmental images each with a quote of the day edited and saved for web
  • Screenshots of editing techniques to one image
  • Summary of successes/challenges of the project. This can include experiences in capturing images with the camera and workflow/software editing techniques

You will be shooting two sets of images for this project. Two 7″ by 10″ 300pixel/inch images from a studio set-up. Two 7″ by 10″ 300 pixel/inch images. Place the documents in the drop folder with the following name convention: Last Name_studioportrait1.jpg

Be sure to name these documents firstname_lastname_studioportrait and firstname_lastname_environmentalportrait into the dropbox for printing. Please also provide a blog post of your final images and explain your process. The posting of your images can be included to your blog posting of your research conducted at the start of this project.