11 Portrait Compositional Basics


© Lisa Evans (Courtesy of the artist)

Most of the common vocabularies about composition are rooted in painting and drawing. As portrait photographers, we can find these concepts beneficial, but it makes sense to speak in terms of how a portrait works rather than just presenting traditional art concepts. For this approach, we widen the ideas from the “elements” or “principles” of composition to include the perceptual aspects of composition, including both psychophysical and phenomenal aspects within the portrait.

Many books present compositional concepts as six, seven, or eight elements of design with five or more ...

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