Portraits have been around us since a handful of thousands of years ago. They have been around since so long, that they have been used to make accurate historic marks based on things like painting technique, to even hair style. Portrait photography is a small appendix in the vast world of Portraits, and they depict in the majority of scenarios, the most realistic representations of people. For me simple and vernacular snapshots are left out from the scope of Portrait Photography, but for other photographers they could apply inside portraiture as well. Portrait offer a wide variety of options, and they are usually used for diverse purposes. The options can go from domestic to propagandistic, from artistic to commercial.
Portraits can depict power, and innocence. The purpose behind a posed portrait can be diverse, and the trendiest corporate portraits try to show an accessible and human side of enterprises and firms. Intimate portraits can be valuable treasures for an individual, and I think the lack of privacy of social media, could be impacting negatively in this fact. I remember the first time I saw the book titled A photographer’s life: 1990-2005 from the Great Photographer Annie Leibovitz, and her intimate images of Susan Sontag, deeply made me think a lot about the importance of having a portion of images that are for nobody but for ourselves and our loved ones.
Philippe Halsman said that a true portrait should, today and a hundred years from today, be the testimony of how this person looked and what kind of human being he was. In anthropological terms, portraits have a great importance, because they work as a reliable evidence when studying certain subjects. Thanks to photography, this statement has changed more dramatically due to the realism and veracity that photography comes with. A portrait is an artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The real big purpose behind portraits is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person.
Portraits can be considered as a great milestone of anyone’s history. There are certain moments in life that deserve a portrait. You as photographers should always keep in mind that people need to be portrayed in a way that they feel absolutely comfortable with. There will be difficult subjects, there will be tricky ones as well, but whatever you choose are your subjects, or if they choose you as their photographers, you have to always keep in mind that for that special person, that portrait will be an important mark or checkpoint in their life and history.
If you are a working in controlled situations (this means no street photography neither photojournalism), try to get a lot of your mind around every concept you craft and define. Justify the reason why you are doing the portraits you are directing. This will give a much deeper meaning and the stories behind those portraits, will
be meaningful as well, either for you, as well as for your clients, subjects and models.