Tag Archives: portraits

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.

Drawing: Fruit Facials

As children progress from the primary to the intermediate grades they often develop a fear of drawing people- -especially portraits. Often this is because they see only the most obvious facial features—two eyes, a nose and a mouth. It’s essential that they also perceive the subtle character of cheek bones, the shape of the chin and forehead areas, the hairline, eye cavities, etc. To enhance these perceptions, I asked each student to bring a political cartoon to class. Political cartoons tend to exaggerate the facial features, making them easier to see

Using an overhead projector, I projected a sample cartoon on the wall and had students carefully divide the face into shapes. The students then substituted fruits and vegetables in the shapes according to their appropriate size, shape and texture. Sometimes a section or part of a fruit or vegetable was used instead of the whole thing

The students then did a drawing of a person’s face, using the cartoons as a reference, and substituting fruits and vegetables for various facial features.

Multiple light portrait set-up

These lighting setups model most faces in a pleasing manner and can be used to improve some features – for example, using broad lighting to widen a thin face. A typical studio portrait setup uses a moderately long camera lens so that the subject can be placed at least 6 feet from the camera; this avoids the distortion that would be caused by having the camera too close to the subject. The subject’s head is often positioned at a slight angle to the camera-turned just enough to hide one ear.

The first photograph shows short or narrow lighting where the main light is on the side of the face away from the camera. This is the most common lighting, used with average oval faces as well as to thin down a too-round face.

The photograph that shows a broad lighting setup where the side of the face turned toward the camera is illuminated by the main light. This type of lighting tends to widen the features, so it is used mainly with thin or narrow faces.

Short lighting places the main light on the side of the face away from the camera. The next four photographs show the separate effect of each of the four lights in this setup. Photo floods were used here. Flash units can be used instead, but when you are learning lighting, the effects of different light positions are easier to judge with photo floods.

The main light in a short lighting setup Is on the side of the face away from the camera. Here a 500-watt photoflood is placed at a 45′ angle at a distance of about 4 feet. The main light is positioned high, with the catchlight, the reflection of the light source In the eyes, at 11 or 1 o’clock.

The fill light, a diffused 500-watt photoflood, is close to the camera lens on the opposite side from the main light. Since it is farther away than the main light, it lightens but does not eliminate the shadows from the main light. Catchlights from the fill are usually spotted out in the final print.

The accent or back light (usually a spotlight) is placed high behind the subject, shining toward the camera but not Into the lens. It rakes across the hair to emphasize texture and bring out sheen. Sometimes a second accent light places an edge highlight on hair or clothing.

The background light helps separate the subject from the background. Here it Is a small photoflood on a short stand placed behind the subject and to one side. It can be placed directly behind the subject If the fixture Itself Is not visible In the picture.

Broad lighting places the main light on the side of the face toward the camera; again the main light is high so the catchlight is at 7 7 or 7 o’clock. The main light In this position may make the side of the head, often the ear, too bright. A “barn door” on the light (see page 26 7) will shade the ear.

Butterfly lighting Is conventionally used as a glamour lighting. The main light is placed directly in front of the face, positioned high enough to create a symmetrical shadow under the nose but not so high that the upper lip or the eye sockets are excessively shadowed.

Light sources for portraits

Front lighting (above left), with the light placed as near the lens axis as possible (here just to the right of the camera), only thin shadows are visible from camera position. This axis lighting seems to flatten out the volume of the subject and minimize textures.

Side lighting (above middle), sometimes called “hatchet” lighting because it can split a subject in half. This type of lighting emphasizes facial features and reveals textures like that of skin. The light is at subject level, directly to the side.

High side lighting (above right), a main light at about 45″ to one side and 45″ above the subject has long been the classic angle for portrait lighting, one that seems natural and flattering. It models the face into a three-dimensional form.

Making a photograph by natural or available light is relatively easy. You begin with the light that is already there and observe what it is doing to the subject. But where do you begin when making a photograph by artificial light, using lights like photofloods or electronic flash that you bring to a scene and arrange yourself? Since the most natural-looking light imitates that from the sun-one main light source casting one dominant set of shadows-the place to begin is by positioning the main light.

This light, also called the key light, should create the only visible shadows, or at least the most important ones, if a natural effect is desired. Two or three equally bright lights producing multiple shadows create a feeling of artificiality and confusion. The position of the main light affects the appearance of texture and volume (see pictures above). Flat frontal lighting (first photograph) decreases both texture and volume, while lighting that rakes across surface features (as seen from camera position) increases it. Natural light usually comes from a height above that of the subject, so this is the most common position for the main source of artificial light. Lighting from a very low angle can suggest mystery, drama, or even menace just because it seems unnatural. The demon in a horror movie is often lit from below.

Top lighting (above left), a light almost directly above the subject creates deep shadows in the eye sockets and under the nose and chin. This effect is often seen in pictures made outdoors at noon when the sun is overhead.

Under lighting (above middle), light from below produces odd looking shadows because light in nature seldom comes from below. Firelight is one source. Hightech scenes, such as by a computer monitor, are a modern setting for under lighting.

Back lighting (above right), a light pointing at the back of a subject outlines its shape with a rim of light like a halo. Position a back light carefully so it does not shine into the camera lens and fog the film overall, and so the fixture itself is not visible.