There are as many types of portrait as there are subjects. Each image of a subject is as unique as that individual, and it should be the desire of the photographer to observe the particular character of the subject and draw upon the characteristics seen or known about them. This can be in terms of place and time, fashion, mood and situation, vocation, struggle and strife or simply personality.
Sometimes a grainy candid shot of a person in his or her own environment can be as effective as a well engineered studio portrait set up of a fashion shoot. Sometimes the simplicity of a harshly lit subject can show all that needs to be read into an image, which needs to portray loneliness or solitary isolation. I’m thinking of maybe a clown or performance artist in their dressing room before going into the bright lights of the stage or circus ring.
Equally a well lit, bright and open air picture of a of a happy market seller surrounded by their wares and all the other colourful market paraphernalia can make for a very interesting portrait of a subject in their own environmental setting. When considering a portrait we have to consider the background – plain, blurred, or detailed.
The head of the subject – face on or turned If more than one subject – do they form a pleasing composition in relation to themselves – is there a geometric shape pleasing to the eye. Props in studio – do they add to what we wish to say? Clothing or costume – what can this add to the portrait? What is the subject focusing on? – the camera or another focus point. How is the lighting going to affect the outcome of the picture?