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Review 3.1.1.

  • Identify the features of candid and portrait photographs
  • Distinguish the differences between candid and portrait photographs
  • Describe tips for capturing candid and portrait photographs
  • Compose a candid photograph

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Portrait Photography

Vocab: abstract portrait, close-up portrait, environmental portrait, forced perspective, formal portrait, glamour portrait, group portrait, lifestyle portrait

Learners can...

  • Identify the characteristics of different types of portrait photography
  • Identify examples of different types of portrait photography
  • Identify tips and techniques for composing each type of portrait photograph
  • Explain your choice of portrait photography styles for shooting pictures


Recall that a portrait is a painting, drawing, or photograph of a person that features the person's face or head and shoulders. Portraits can be of groups or individuals. A close-up portrait is a portrait where the subject takes up most or all of the frame. Close-ups are typical of the human face but can also be of other body parts, such as hands or eyes. While this technique has no hard-and-fast rules, there are some tips that photographers can apply to make the most of their photoshoot. The model's confidence can be boosted by using makeup, accentuating their strong features, and diminishing flaws. Using a zoom lens allows the photographer to take a close-up photo without getting too close, and a large aperture guarantees a softer focus. Photographers can also experiment with various lighting setups to create light and shadows on the subject's face.


Close Up Techniques

As you view the images, look for the subject's facial expression, color tones, backgrounds, and lighting techniques used to compose the photographs.


🔥Portrait photographs can be categorized into the following types:

  • Group
  • Formal
  • Lifestyle
  • Glamour
  • Abstract
  • Environmental

🔥Group Portraits

Group portraits are portraits that include multiple people. Such portraits can be challenging to capture since you have to coordinate everyone's poses and facial expressions.

Capturing Memories

Lighting and Camera Settings

Subject Placement and Background Color

Guidance to Subjects

Formal portraits are captured in studios. In this type of portrait, seamless backgrounds and studio lighting control light and shadows. Subjects are usually instructed on poses to strike and facial expressions to make for the picture.

🔥 Formal Portraits

Removing the color in a portrait photograph can have a dramatic effect on the tone of the portrait.The portrait on the right uses a black-and-white effect. A black-and-white effect can also add an artistic flair to your portraits.

Color and Tone

One of the most important elements of a portrait is the selection of the right background.In the example at right, the photographer has used bright colors that add life to the picture. The subject is wearing plain, solid-color clothes with no designs or patterns, which helps to lock the viewer's focus on the face. Patterned clothes are difficult to compensate for in a portrait, as they can be distracting.


Position of the Subject

When dealing with height differences between subjects, position the taller subject in the back and the shorter subject in front to create forced perspective. Forced perspective is a photography technique that manipulates human perception with the use of optical illusions. These illusions make objects appear larger or smaller, farther or closer, than they actually are. It is best to avoid placing both subjects in the same line because the taller subject will make the shorter subject appear shorter.


🔥Lifestyle Portraits

Lifestyle portraits capture real-life moments of the subject's everyday environment artistically. These portraits are not necessarily posed, but subjects may be guided. Subjects in lifestyle photography often smile while doing something active, with a background that gives further insight into the subject's activity. Lifestyle portraits should feel like real life being captured on film and work well for posting on social media platforms.

Lifestyle photographs can be captured in any location: on the street, at home, or in an office. This type of photography portrays ideal scenarios, perfect for social media. In the photograph to the right, the subject is seen casually walking down a street with a carefree attitude.


This visual depiction combines the elements of a posed portrait session and a candid moment.The photograph is a heartwarming picture of two people embracing each other, wearing genuine smiles. It suggests the happiness felt by two people who have met each other after a long time apart. Their smiles are contagious and give the picture a warm feeling.

Visual Depiction

Relaxed subjects have natural poses. The hands are often a giveaway if the subject is relaxed or not. A tense or nervous subject will have stiff, flat fingers, whereas a relaxed subject will have a soft curvature to their hands and fingers.Lifestyle portraits capture life's happy moments. In this example, an adult and a child are seen enjoying some relaxing time in a park. The adult, perhaps a parent, is bending down to the level of the child's smiling face, depicting an intimate bond between them.

Relaxed Subjects

Glamour portraits are taken after enhancing the subject's beauty using hair styling and makeup. The subjects in glamour portraits often have glowing skin. Usually, the photographs are heavily retouched during post-production.

🔥Glamour Portraits

Makeup can provide dramatic effects in glamour portraits. It can be fun to play with makeup and hairstyles; working on a person's appearance is an art in itself. The quality of lighting during a glamour portrait photoshoot impacts the look of makeup. Soft light requires less retouching in post-production and can help smooth out any imperfections.


Glamour photography may also include planning a wardrobe for the shoot and styling the subject in different outfits. It can also include hairstyling and dramatic poses.In the example shown, the subject is captured with styled hair and posed to look in the distance, giving a dramatic feel to the image. The background is neutral which directs all attention to the model. Even though the image appears somewhat casual, all elements are deliberate and strategically planned.


Perfecting the Look

Some tips for perfecting the model's look include placing their shoulder's back, elongating their neck, and directing them to place their chin slightly forward, but not up. The subjects in the photograph on the right have all been styled professionally and have harmony between them in terms of style. The styling flows well between the subjects as a group, but it also helps them stand out individually. From the hair and makeup to the studio lights and the airbrushed skin, a lot of professional effort has gone into creating this picture.


🔥Abstract Portraits

Sometimes portraits are altered post-production to convey ideas through colors, symbols, and themes, like an abstract painting. These photographs, which feel more like artworks, are called abstract portraits. Sometimes called conceptual portraits, abstract portraits are often manipulated during post-production. They are not meant to be realistic, unlike the other types of portrait photographs.

How the light source, natural or artificial, is positioned in relation to the subject can affect many factors in a final photo, including clarity and emotion.In the example, the lighting on the subject was applied just before the shutter release. Place your subject in a dark room and try shining different colored lights on them to achieve such an effect.


The double exposure technique layers two different exposures onto a single image. Essentially, it combines two photos into one. The example is a double exposure of the same subject. Two pictures were captured, and the subject posed differently in both. The two images were then layered using photo-editing software, such as Photoshop or Snapseed.

Double Exposure

Composition refers to how the elements of a photo are arranged.The example could be a double-exposure picture or simply an image combining what was visible through the glass and what was reflected by the glass. Capturing reflections in water, glass, or other reflective surfaces can add a dramatic effect to your photos.


A prop is a portable object used in a photoshoot.With portrait photography, a prop will enhance the subject. It will give the viewer a better idea of who they are. Portrait props can add elements of fiction to conceptual photography ideas.Similar to abstract art, the meaning depicted by conceptual portraiture is up to the viewer’s interpretation. The conceptual portrait at the right is an example of abstract portraiture using props. The dog costume and newspaper are used to convey a story of the connection between the daily lifestyle of humans and the involvement of dogs in their routines.


Environmental Portraits

While portraits can be taken inside a studio, they can also be taken on location. Environmental portraits are captured at a subject's home or workplace. The idea behind this type of portrait is that subjects feel more comfortable in their own familiar surroundings and will genuinely express themselves. Environmental portraits provide the viewer with additional information about the subject. They may learn who the subject is, what they do, and where they are located. These details tell a story about the subject that a studio cannot.

Composing with Leading Lines

Leading lines are lines that have been framed and positioned by the photographer to draw the viewer's eye towards a specific point of interest in the frame.The subject in the picture is standing in a greenhouse, which they may own or work in. The frames and pipes of the greenhouse glass and the lines of potted plants lead to the subject. The subject is posing with one hand resting on their hip, one leg planted forward, with their weight resting on their other leg. This pose gives the subject a confident look.

Composing with the Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a composition technique that positions the subject in the left or right third of an image, leaving the other two-thirds empty. The photographer has used the Rule of Thirds to focus on the subjects. The photographer has arranged the subjects in the right third of the image frame. The blurred background of this environmental portrait places the focus on the subjects in the foreground. The bright smiles of the adult and the child exude happiness, and their proximity suggests an intimate bond.

Subject Placement

Subject placement refers to where the focal point, or the subject, is located or positioned. The comfortable smiles of the people in this picture indicate that they may be sitting in their own home. Observe how one subject is sitting a step below the other subject. Positioning subjects at multiple levels will improve the look of the portrait. The casual way in which the subject is resting their arms on the other subject's knees shows that they are comfortable with each other.

  1. Group Portrait
  2. Conceptual Portrait
  3. Formal Portrait
  4. Lifestyle Portrait

Match the type of portrait with the appropriate photograph.



Summary 3.1.2.

In today's lesson, you learned:

  • There are different types of portrait photography, each with unique characteristics
  • How to apply photography techniques to compose portraits
In the next part of today’s lesson, you will complete a portrait assignment. You will use your camera to compose two portrait photographs using any techniques you learned in today's lesson.


Assignment: Portray a Portrait

In this assignment, you will compose two different portrait photographs of your choosing.For today's assignment, you will choose two (2) different portrait styles from the six types on the next slide to clearly demonstrate in your photos. Safety Tips:

  • Keep a safe distance from electrical devices, such as exposed light bulbs if using them as a source of light.
  • Be careful when photographing from different perspectives. Use a sturdy chair or ladder when photographing a subject from above.
  • If needed, ask an adult to help you.

Assignment Description

🔥Portrait photographs can be categorized into the following types:

  1. Group
  2. Formal
  3. Lifestyle
  4. Glamour
  5. Abstract
  6. Environmental

Types of Portraits

  1. Use your mobile or digital camera to compose 2 different portrait photographs of your chosen subject.
  2. Each photograph should depict one type of portrait photography (you should submit two (2) different portrait styles).
  3. Experiment with the pose, lighting setup, and camera angle.
  4. Take as many pictures as needed in order to capture two for submission.
  5. Choose the two portrait photographs that best demonstrate your vision. Include them in a PowerPoint presentation (linked on Edio).
  6. For each photograph, include the name of the portrait photography type. Complete your response for each photo.
  7. Answer the questions on Edio
  8. Submit your photographs for evaluation.


  1. ALL photos submitted in this course MUST be photos YOU take. Photos taken OF you or FOR you and images found online are NOT your ORIGINAL artwork and will not be accepted.
  2. ALL photos submitted must be NEW and taken specifically FOR EACH project. It is important that you apply the techniques you learned throughout the unit and grow throughout the course. Photos taken before the project was assigned will not be accepted.
  3. Photos OF Pictures, photos OF drawings or paintings, etc., or photos OF a television or computer screen do NOT work for this course. If drawing, painting, or gaming interests you, please consider taking photographs of the ACT of doing these activities rather than the final product.
In an upcoming lesson, you will learn about types of landscape photography.

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Go Beyond the Frame

Close-up portraits often end outside the image frame, cutting out some of the facial features, as shown in the example at right.

Avoid direct sunlight if you are shooting group portraits outdoors. If it is a sunny day, place your subjects in even shade. When capturing large group portraits indoors, try to use bright light from windows to light the room. Keep your camera f-stop in the range of f8 to f10 to ensure that everyone in the large group is in focus. The aperture needs to narrow to make sure that all subjects are in focus. Approach your subjects from different angles. Go low, high, and everything in between.

Draw Attention to the Eyes

The example on the right is an extreme close-up of an eye. The wrinkles and crevices on the face make for great texture for the close-up.

Give some thought to the placement of subjects. Position your subjects at different heights and in different locations and arrangements. Triangular arrangements are pleasing to the eye. For example, in the photograph on the right, the subjects are placed in a triangular fashion, with the person at the tip of the triangle positioned closest to the camera. The subjects are further brought into focus by the use of a bright background that complements the subjects.

Focus on a Unique Facial Feature

In the example at right, a subject's face is shown in close-up, highlighting their freckles as their most distinctive facial feature. The freckles also give a textural element to the photograph.

Group portraits can help to preserve memories from important events such as school reunions, weddings, and group vacations. Group portraits may include family members from multiple generations or friends celebrating a memorable event. Locations such as the living room, front porch, or garden make excellent places to take a group portrait. These locations have even, flat lighting that produces little contrast and produces uniform illumination over the entire group.

Capturing a large group may require patience and coordination on your part as a photographer. Keep a light conversation flowing with your subjects to maintain a relaxed environment. Encourage spontaneity in subjects' poses, and motivate them with words. Give the subjects a countdown so they know not to blink and can be ready for the picture.

Use Sunlight for Lighting

In the example at right, sunlight is hitting the side of the subject's head, locking the viewer's eyes on their face. The subject is in the center of the frame. The close-up effect is achieved by either holding the camera close to the subject or cropping away the borders around the face in post-production.