Create the Look
Explore the Light
Work with Your Subject
I like to visit art museums and observe how artists have painted, sculpted, or photographed their portrait subjects over time. It's interesting to note that the political, economic, social, and technical context of any era does affect the style of a portrait, but the inspiration to capture a person's essence and record something important is timeless. Prior to the emergence of photography, a portrait session was reserved only for the wealthy; now with digital photography, everyone can take portraits in a creative, efficient, and cost-effective way.
In addition to the technical and creative execution of your image, a successful photographic portrait captures something significant and identifiable about a person's character and personality. Whether you are familiar with your subject or not, you need to build a rapport and engage him in conversation; observe his expressions, reactions, and body language; and judge how to best capture him in your image. This requires an interest in your subject and sensitivity to human nature. For example, the series of images in Figure 5-1 shows my subject carefully considering a question I asked him, and then giving his response.
In this chapter, you discover ways to work with your subject, find and create a flattering environment, and capture a compelling portrait. ...