RayCee the Artist
Everything You Should Know About Portrait Photography
Updated: Jan 16
Portrait photography is one of the most intimate and unique types of photography and can serve various purposes, from professional portraits to sophisticated family photoshoots. If you are considering hiring a professional photographer for a portrait photography session, you should educate yourself on all there is to know about this style of photography.
There is much more to portrait photography than meets the eye, and you’ll have no shortage of options for your photography session. If you’re curious about hiring a professional portrait photographer, you’re in the right place. This article (~10 min read) will cover everything you should know about portrait photography and how RayCee the Artist can work with you to create a beautiful portrait.
What is Portrait Photography?
Portrait photography is a style of photography where individuals or groups of people are positioned and photographed to capture their unique personalities, emotions, and identities. Portrait photographs appear natural and use effective techniques for lighting and positioning to present a window into the subject’s soul.
Portrait photography also uses complementary backgrounds and atmospheres to capture the subject’s essence. When executed correctly, a great portrait photograph is a sophisticated, stunning, and valuable artwork you can cherish for years.
Keep in mind that a wide angle lens or more telephoto portrait lens may be used for shooting portraiture photographs. Also, the portraiture photos may undergo post processing to process the portraiture photos into black and white photos.
Types of Portrait Photographs
A portrait photographer typically offers different types and styles of portraits to guarantee that you can find a style that suits your personality. Below is an overview of the most popular styles of great portrait photography to guide you toward the right decision.
Traditional portraits are likely the style that comes to mind when you think of portrait photography. Traditional portrait photography predominately focuses on the subject from the shoulders up and looking into the camera (lens should have sharp focus on subject's eyes/subject's face). These portraits are often shot in a professional studio with a formal background and flash light source lighting setups (soft light source is best), and give off a sophisticated aura unique to this type of portrait.
Candid and Street Portraits
Candid portraits, also known as street photography, are one of the unique options for anyone considering a portrait photography session. Street portraits are typically candid and have minimal planning. Though you and your photographer might plan the location and craft a loose approach to the session, your poses and actions are natural.
Many consider candid portraits as a “pure” type of photography. Because of the lack of planning and posing, street portraits can depict an individual as their honest self, providing a unique window into their soul and essence.
Lifestyle portrait photography is unique because it transforms an individual’s everyday life into a stunning, intimate environment where they are captured in their most natural state. Lifestyle portraits can capture an individual or a group of people. Similar to candid portraits, lifestyle portraits are typically not positioned and appear spontaneous. The goal of lifestyle portraits is to show a subject’s authentic self in different settings, such as their home, work, restaurant, or other personal environments.
Environmental portrait photography captures subjects by emphasizing the surrounding environment to depict what the subject values and finds meaningful. Environmental portraits are similar to lifestyle portraits but are less spontaneous and require careful posing to capture the subject’s essence.
The environment for this type of portrait is usually a location with sentimental value to the subject or subjects. Because of how essential the environment is for this portrait type, environmental portraits can offer the viewer profound insights into the individual’s personality and passions. Natural light is also a common characteristic of environmental portraits.
Family, Couple, and Group Portraits
This portrait style focuses on the chemistry and bond between multiple subjects, whether they are family, a group of friends, or a couple. These portraits are ideal for significant life events and holidays and require a delicate balance of posing and spontaneity. Group portraits emphasize the connection and chemistry between multiple subjects and how they interact.
Glamour portraits are sophisticated beauty portraits focusing on extensive wardrobe and makeup planning. Glamour portraits are applicable in various situations and are often used for high-end brands. Unlike other portrait styles, these portraits make the subject the focal point of the environment and can provide a unique sense of intimacy and sensuality. Glamour portraits are often highly professional and can be set in various environments.
Individual portraits can be conducted in various photography styles and focus on a single subject and their likeness. Individual portraits are trendy for various reasons and present a raw, unfiltered look into a subject’s life and soul. Individual portraits are one of the best ways for photographers and subjects to capture the essence of humanity and show an individual who they are and what they value.
Also, adjusting camera settings to achieve a shallow depth of field is a great way to create a great portrait photograph. There are many different types of camera settings which can create an amazing portrait photograph.
Location Ideas for Portrait Photography Sessions
Portrait photography doesn’t have to stay inside the studio, and there are endless possibilities for where you can set your portrait photographs to capture your very essence. If you are considering portrait photography but want to explore outside of a traditional studio setting, you can consider some of the options below for your upcoming session.
Anyone living near a beach knows the beauty that it offers, particularly in photographs. If you are considering a portrait photography session, the beach is one of the best options. The beach is a common location for Los Angeles portrait photography because it emphasizes the beautiful environment while still focusing on the subject.
The beach is versatile and constantly shifting depending on the season or hour of the day. Because the lighting and water levels constantly change at the beach, portrait photographers can take advantage of this environment’s versatility. The beach can give your portraits a romantic, sensual aura during sunset, a sunny and happy vibe during the daytime, or a moody and intriguing essence when the sun begins to set. The water’s changing tides perfectly add a dynamic, lively element to your portraits. Beach photography portraits are excellent options because they leave no shortage of possibilities for how your portrait will turn out.
Parks are excellent locations for a portrait photography session, especially when you find a quiet, intimate spot in your favorite setting. Park portraits are fantastic for many reasons and are the perfect option for outdoor lovers that want to capture stunning nature in their portraits. Setting your portrait photography session at the park allows you to create a natural, peaceful environment with vibrant colors or a candid-style portrait if you prefer a busier setting.
Parks are perfect for individual and group subjects, making the possibilities endless. If there is a park you are particularly fond of, consider setting your portrait photography session there to capture a stunning environment that holds deep value to you.
If you are considering a lifestyle portrait, holding your photography session in your home is the perfect option. Portraits taken in your home provide an intimate and authentic experience with a worthwhile outcome. This setting is also ideal for many seeking a family or couples portrait. By selecting your house as the location for your portrait photography session, you can depict yourself in your most natural state and capture stunning, candid portraits of memorable moments.
Stairwells and Staircases
Stairwells and staircases are accessible and unique locations for your upcoming portrait photography session. A portrait photographer can help frame stairwell shots to convey different moods or messages about your personality. A benefit of this location is the versatility you will find in different stairwells. No matter where you’re located, you can find a modern, vintage, or rustic staircase relatively easily.
Stairwells are also valuable options because your portrait photographer can take advantage of the natural lines in staircases to frame the photograph. Different buildings will offer unique staircase designs, such as straight or winding stairwells.
By the Water
Having your portrait taken near a water source is one of the best options to capture a stunning, intimate moment with your portrait photographer. There is no shortage of water sources for your portrait photographs, no matter where you’re located. Even if you aren’t near the beach, water sources like lakes, rivers, ponds, or fountains are viable options to bring your portrait photography session to life.
Water can be a stunning backdrop for your portraits or used experimentally by photographers, such as capturing your portrait in the water’s reflection. This location is versatile and can convey various moods depending on the time of day, lighting, and surroundings. For instance, port