Portraiture 101

skieur

TPF Noob!
Joined
May 14, 2007
Messages
5,076
Reaction score
204
Location
Canada
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
In the forums I am in, I find that even among the pros, there are so few people that have even a basic understanding of portraiture.

Some photographers seem to have a pretty large ego but seem to think that the subjects of their photos have no ego at all. No woman wants to look at a photo that shows that she is putting on weight, emphasizes her wrinkles, shows a scar or the results of acne, displays bags under her eyes, demonstrates the stress that she is under, makes her hair look flat and lifeless, makes her hands look ugly, shows the red in her eyes from being overtired, points out that she did not have braces or proper dental care when growing up, etc. No guy, wants a shot that emphasizes that he is losing his hair, is getting a paunch from too much beer, is developing jowls, has bags under his eyes, has bloodshot eyes etc. either.

I am amazed at the number of portrait photographers that excuse their lack of skill behind the camera and in postprocessing with the excuse that they are photographing the "natural, real person". That has never been the purpose of portrait photography. The objective among dedicated portrait photographers has always been to "flatter the subject". Photography has always been representational and the portrait photographer should be trying to get the best, most flattering representation of the subject.

"The eyes are the mirror to the soul" and that is where the focus of the viewer should be led by any excellent quality portrait shot. Any feature that distracts from this focus is a flaw and a weakness and it is the flaw and weakness of the photographer not the subject. It is the photographer who has let small ears, a wide face, wrinkles etc. distract the focus of the viewer and make the subject look less attractive than she truly is.

Some misogynists seem to forget that girls don't usually show up for graduation looking like they just got out of bed in the morning and no woman avoids makeup or dressing up in the interest of looking "natural" at an important interview or presentation. They want to look their best.

The role of the portrait photographer in both technique behind the camera and with lighting as well as postprocessing is to flatter the subject and that is not what is being done in many of the portraits that I see.

skieur
 

Trenton Romulox

TPF Noob!
Joined
Mar 10, 2007
Messages
2,392
Reaction score
0
Location
Maine
Website
www.jeremygrayphotography.com
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
What if the subject wants to look real? Not everyone in our society is infatuated with looking their best, or being the best-looking. Some people want to be real and raw all of the time. If the person's request is to look best, then by all means, the portrait should do just that. But I don't think you can group all people in the same mindset, not everyone wants to be beautiful. Sometimes portraiture is about capturing the true person, and not that person looking 'pretty'.
 

craig

TPF Noob!
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
5,600
Reaction score
21
Location
Hermosa Beach, CA U.S.A
Website
craigblank.com
Of course getting amazing looking portraits takes an amazing eye for detail and a lot of know how. Fact of the matter is that is only one approach to portrait photography. Some people go for a fun approach. Some go for a gritty approach. The possibilities are boundless.

Certainly there are tons of people who are just beginning or are slightly confused. We have all been there at one time or other. Point is that photography is an amazing medium and can be taken on many different levels. Now more then ever photography is about discovery, exploration and just plain having fun. As photographers we need to help when we can and not pass judgement so to speak.

I do not see a whole lot of photographers that excuse there lack of skill. Mainly I see creative photos.

Love & Bass
 

kundalini

Been spending a lot of time on here!
Joined
Jul 18, 2007
Messages
13,609
Reaction score
1,936
Location
State of Confusion
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
What if the subject wants to look real? Not everyone in our society is infatuated with looking their best, or being the best-looking. Some people want to be real and raw all of the time. If the person's request is to look best, then by all means, the portrait should do just that. But I don't think you can group all people in the same mindset, not everyone wants to be beautiful. Sometimes portraiture is about capturing the true person, and not that person looking 'pretty'.


You may be confusing portraiture with photojournalism or snapshots at the backyard BBQ.

I guarantee you that if someone lets loose cold hard cash to have their photo taken, they will inherently do their part to look their best and expecting the tog to do his/her best. They are preserving a memory.
 

Trenton Romulox

TPF Noob!
Joined
Mar 10, 2007
Messages
2,392
Reaction score
0
Location
Maine
Website
www.jeremygrayphotography.com
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
You may be confusing portraiture with photojournalism or snapshots at the backyard BBQ.

I guarantee you that if someone lets loose cold hard cash to have their photo taken, they will inherently do their part to look their best and expecting the tog to do his/her best. They are preserving a memory.

Maybe you're right. Yeah, you're probably right. But can't photojournalism incorporate portraiture? I don't like to draw distinct lines between the different types of photos.
 

kundalini

Been spending a lot of time on here!
Joined
Jul 18, 2007
Messages
13,609
Reaction score
1,936
Location
State of Confusion
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
I dislike pigeon holes worse than the next fellow, but think about it. What was the OP saying?
 

Sideburns

TPF Noob!
Joined
Aug 14, 2007
Messages
2,796
Reaction score
0
Location
Windsor, Ontario
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I think you fail to realize the subtle differences between normal portraiture and glamour photography.

I mean there's no excuse to make the person look ugly...but the point is not to make them look like something they aren't.
 

Trenton Romulox

TPF Noob!
Joined
Mar 10, 2007
Messages
2,392
Reaction score
0
Location
Maine
Website
www.jeremygrayphotography.com
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I think you fail to realize the subtle differences between normal portraiture and glamour photography.

I mean there's no excuse to make the person look ugly...but the point is not to make them look like something they aren't.

YES! Thank you! That's exactly what I was trying to say, you just said it in a much simpler, more understandable, and intelligent way than I could.

YES!
 

keith204

No longer a newbie, moving up!
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
1,643
Reaction score
2
Location
Bolivar, MO
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I think you fail to realize the subtle differences between normal portraiture and glamour photography.

I mean there's no excuse to make the person look ugly...but the point is not to make them look like something they aren't.

:thumbup:

I am a very beginner at portraiture, but IMO nicely said! I am disappointed with one of my Senior (high school) pictures because it doesn't look like me at all. It looked too good!
 

Sideburns

TPF Noob!
Joined
Aug 14, 2007
Messages
2,796
Reaction score
0
Location
Windsor, Ontario
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
YES! Thank you! That's exactly what I was trying to say, you just said it in a much simpler, more understandable, and intelligent way than I could.

YES!

I figured I was probably speaking for a few when I said it...thanks.

:thumbup:

I am a very beginner at portraiture, but IMO nicely said! I am disappointed with one of my Senior (high school) pictures because it doesn't look like me at all. It looked too good!

thank you.
I was just kind of taken aback by someone so knowledgeable saying this...kind of weird. I'm sure he just got ahead of himself.
 

petey

TPF Noob!
Joined
Oct 14, 2007
Messages
311
Reaction score
0
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I question what people mean when they say they want to look their best.
 

Sideburns

TPF Noob!
Joined
Aug 14, 2007
Messages
2,796
Reaction score
0
Location
Windsor, Ontario
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I question what people mean when they say they want to look their best.

usually it means "I wanna look like the stereotypical attractive person, or as close to it as possible".

For girls this means playboy bunnies, supermodels, and professional beach volleyball players

For guys this means movie stars, professional fighters, and professional beach volleyball players

You can't always get what you want...but you can ask...lol
 

The Phototron

TPF Noob!
Joined
Jun 26, 2007
Messages
948
Reaction score
0
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I am amazed that you emphasize so much on these little components to a portrait. People don't scan pixel after pixel looking for little moles and zits on their picture, they usually just look for a global impression.

As far as pleasing the clients, the global impression matters much more. Not everybody is superficial as you think.

Also, not every body is interested in pictures that made them look good, some people want pictures that show who they are, pictures that are telling. With that regard, you shouldn't always compose the picture to hide the defects, or compromise the composition because of them.

And don't throw terms like "misogynists" around to add bad connotations to people who disagree with you. It's pathetic waste of argument.

On a similar note, I very much agree with what Sideburns said as well.
 

Most reactions

New Topics

Top