Portrait photography is an art in itself, because it is not so much about depicting a face, but about capturing a person’s entire being for eternity. A good portrait photo is like an onion, which consists of many layers and a successful portrait photo always shows new layers the longer it is looked at. This is what makes portrait photography so unique and difficult, because a technically perfect photograph of a person is far from being a portrait. However, a technically bad photo is rarely a good portrait, because besides all the art, the photographer must observe certain rules for a portrait, which belong to the basics of portrait photography.
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Art and technique of portrait photography
Before a portrait is created, the photographer must decide whether he wants to photograph the person frontally, in profile, in half profile or in three-quarters profile. The easiest way is to view the subject through the camera’s viewfinder in all positions and then choose the best view. Photographing people from the front can make them look dominant and massive. The half profile usually reveals the different eye size that is normal for all people.
In the three-quarter profile, the photographer should pay attention to the position of the nose. The photographer needs some tact in the choice of perspective, because a large-looking nose does not need a perspective that makes it look even larger and longer. It can be interesting to play with the eye level in portraits, as this can generate certain emotional reactions. A portrait at eye level unconsciously creates trust and equality, while a photo taken from below eye level makes the person appear larger and more sublime. A photo taken from above eye level makes the person appear smaller, which is considered a positive effect for children, but a person can also devalue it, which is why this position should be used with caution.
Portrait photography – head rotation
Photography, design and painting all belong in the field of art. As soon as portraits of any kind are concerned, there are formal distinguishing features that one gets to know over time. The head rotation of the face can also be divided into 6 points when taking pictures.
- frontal view – en face (the face is frontal to the viewer)
- three-quarter profile (the face is slightly turned out of the frontal view, so that the half facing the viewer is completely shortened and the side facing away from him very strongly, whereby the proportions in the face shift)
- Half profile (middle between the profile and the three-quarter profile, the second eye is still visible)
- Quarter profile (rarely occurring view in which the profile view predominates and the second eye is just visible)
- Profile view – en profil (pure side view, comparable to the silhouette)
- lost profile – profile perdu (rarely seen from behind, only the contours of the cheekbones are visible)
Important: basic knowledge of portrait photography
It is also important to choose the correct focal length for a portrait, as each setting changes a portrait and achieves a different effect. A realistic portrait should be shot with a focal length between 50 -100 mm, because more extreme values also have corresponding consequences. The detail of the picture is also decisive for a successful portrait, whereby the classic portrait is usually a bust picture. In doing so, the photographer must also pay attention to the surroundings, which in a successful portrait show something that constitutes or clarifies the essence of the person. Therefore, the portrait should be constructed very carefully.
The larger the face itself is photographed, the more cautiously the photographer should work to preserve the artistic lightness. The situation is similar for a cut portrait, since the face shows no background and covers the complete photo. Detailed portraits go one step further, because this portrait concentrates only on one area such as an eye or mouth. In addition to the focal length, the depth of field must be correct because it makes the portrait look realistic. In order for the portrait to have a fascinating effect, the eyes must be as sharp as possible. This should also be underlined with a special shine and a reflex point in the eye.
The choice of the incidence of light also has a great influence on the quality of a portrait, although there are various theories about the right side. If you have the time, you should simply check the incidence of light from the right and left and choose the better one from both sides. A portrait photographer should be an expert in his field who has both the technical and artistic side of photography under control. There are certain basics and techniques that a portrait needs to be appealing. However, the magic of a good portrait only comes to bear if the photographer can also capture the soul in the motif on the photo.
Portrait photography – try it out!
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