Portrait Photography: Basic Information

A picture that centers on a person or small group’s facial expression while they are in a still position is known as a portrait, or portraiture. The person or group’s personalities, moods and likeness come through. Portrait photography doesn’t always have to be just a face within a picture–the whole body & the background can be included also. When shooting a portrait photograph the person or group is usually looking straight into the lens.

Unlike other styles of picture taking, portrait photography doesn’t usually include professional models. Some examples of portrait photography are graduations, special events, & weddings and are usually displayed in private homes. Many are done on studio with several settings to select from.

The History of Portrait Photography

Ever since the invention of the camera people have been using portrait photography. It was, and is more inexpensive way then having your portrait painted & it is a more available method. People would sit against a background & were lit with natural light from a window. Portrait photography can now be more creative with the way technology has evolve since they can adjust light & move around more.


Portrait photographs can be done in a studio where the photographer can adjust the light when capturing portraits. They can change the intensity & the direction. Different lighting terms include kicker lights, fill lights, background lights & the main light.

The most important light source is obviously referred to the main light. The main light is generally positioned above or below the subject and at a 45 degree angle.The main light can create shadows so the fill light helps to eliminate them. The light that brightens up the hair of the subject is the kicker light. This will help to add depth and to show the separation from the subject and the background. To add effects to the backdrops the background light is used to brighten up the background.

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