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What is Portrait Photography?

Portrait photography, or portraiture, is a type of photography aimed toward capturing the personality of a person or group of people by using effective lighting, backdrops, and poses. A portrait photograph may be artistic or clinical. Frequently, portraits are commissioned for special occasions, such as weddings, school events, or commercial purposes.

Studio Portrait photography

Portraits can serve many purposes, ranging from usage on a personal web site to display in the lobby of a business. As long as the portrait photographer can effectively capture the subject’s character, the equipment he/she uses does not really matter. While it always helps to have equipment that is state of the art, it is really not needed.

Nervous Client = Bad Photo:

Very few people are genuinely comfortable in front of a camera, especially if they are not familiar with the photographer. The best portrait photographers have an great ability to make their subjects feel comfortable in front of the camera, allowing them to capture genuine emotions. When most people think about portrait photography, they often forget about this aspect.

As I state in the footer of this website: “I believe that in order to produce great pictures, it is far more important to click with my client than to click with the shutter"

Any evento where the client does not feel relaxed will result in portrait photos that are forced or uneasy. This is the difference between Portrait and Street photography where the style is to take candid photos of strangers. In portrait photography, the client knows he/she is having their photo taken and it’s about making them feel comfortable in front of the lens. It’s the photographer’s job to ease the subject so the best image can be captured.

In Studio or On Location:

Portrait photographers have to decide where to set the background for their portrait photos.

They can either use a studio or scout for a location outside.

Many traditional portrait photographers prefer a plain background in a studio. This helps them focus on their subjects and avoid any distractions from the background. But some photographers like to use outdoor locations. They can add creative elements that show the character and personality of their subjects. This makes the portrait photos more interesting and personal.

No matter where they choose, portrait photographers always make sure that their subjects are the main attraction and not the background/location


Portrait photography depends a lot on lighting as different lighting setups can change the mood and expression of the portrait. Most portrait photographers avoid using the camera’s built-in flash and instead use natural light or studio lights and reflectors.

Fine art portrait Photo

In a studio, they can use reflectors and out-of-camera lights to light up the model. If they don’t have studio lighting or they want a different style, they can use natural light for their portrait photos. In this case, they use the sun as their light source.

This means they have to know how to use the daylight timing and the body positioning to get good natural light portrait photos. If they do it right, they can get beautiful portraits.

Types of Portrait Photography:

1: Traditional portraits:

A traditional portrait is the most common type of portrait photography and often has the subject looking straight at the camera in a posed position. These types of portraits are usually shot within a studio with the help of studio lighting and a prepared background. The photographer will use lighting to create a flattering image of the subject.

Traditional portrait photography

2: Lifestyle Portraits:

Lifestyle portraits are more relaxed and informal than other types of portraits. They show the subject in their own home or in a natural setting like a park. The aim of a lifestyle portrait is to show the subject’s personality and how they live their life. The photographer will often ask the subject to do something with their environment or with each other to make the images look natural.

These kinds of portraits are often used for social media or dating profiles.

Lifestyle portrait photography

3. Environmental Portraits

An environmental portrait shows the environment as well as the person who is the main subject of the photo. These kinds of portraits are usually taken in a place and environment that matters to the subject. Environmental portraits are a bit different from lifestyle portraits because they are more “posed” than lifestyle portraits. The aim of an environmental portrait is to show the subject doing what they love and being in their element. These kinds of portraits can tell a story about the person that normal portraits can’t. These kinds of portraits are often used on business websites. For example, if you are a chef, you would want to show photos of you cooking as a chef to attract potential clients.

Environmental portrait photography

4. Fine Art Portrait

Fine art portraits are made to be shown on a wall or in a gallery. These kinds of photos are usually very artistic and may be changed a lot or even made completely after taking the photo. Fine art portraits are often used for more creative projects where the photo will be part of some art in a magazine or for a project like a movie or music video.

Fine Art portrait photography

5. Family and Group Portrait

These types of portraits often involve group poses and interactions between the members of the group in order to create a candid photograph.

Many family/group portrait photographers also utilize prompts in order for the subjects to act out a certain scenario, often producing very candid results.

Family portrait photography

Why is portrait photography so expensive?

Portrait photography can be costly because of many reasons such as the high level of skill and experience needed, the price of good equipment and studio space, the time and effort spent on editing and post-processing, and the worth of capturing special and lasting moments for clients.


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