The diversity of face shape, colour and texture makes portrait photography an enduring fascination for many. Taking a great portrait photograph takes a lot of practice, and there are so many ways to go in terms of style. In honour of one of perhaps the most classical photo genre, today we look at portrait photography in greater detail.

Different types of portrait photograph

Think portrait photography is too restrictive?Not sure portrait photography is your bag? You don’t need to be straight laced to concentrate on the face! Types of portrait photography include:

  • Traditional: the subject looks directly at the camera and the face is the main element of the image
  • Environment: the subject in their working environment (a baker kneading dough etc.)
  • Candid: an image taken without the knowledge of the subject
  • Lifestyle: a photograph that depicts the lifestyle of the subject/s (a family laughing together etc.)

Famous portrait photographers

There are many well-renowned portrait photographers. Below is just a tiny selection of the big names who have caught the attention of the world with their individual takes on the art of capturing the face.

Annie Leibovitz is considered one of America’s great portrait photographers, capturing images of John Lennon on the day of his death and changing the look of Rolling Stone magazine as chief photographer. She is now well-known for her work with Vanity Fair.

Trademark: use of bold colours

Steve McCurry is most famous for his photo ‘Afghan Girl’. This photo was taken in a refugee camp in Peshawar, Pakistan – National Geographic named it the most recognised photo.

Trademark: his photojournalism

Jimmy Nelson has taken photographs of indigenous and tribal people in more than 16 countries. He is a British photojournalist and photographer.

Trademark: tribal and indigenous people

What equipment?

As with most photography, its best to learn the craft first and then invest in more expensive equipment as you grow with confidence.

Zoom lenses are great for portrait photography as they allow the photographer to get mid-shots and tight head shots, as well as zooming out for the full-length shots. Your subject can relax into their position and you don’t need to move the camera itself.

A tripod is also a good tool as this will stabilise the camera so you can focus on getting the best image with the zoom lens – perfect for a traditional portrait photograph.

A light modifier, such as a softbox, will give you the best possible light and can really make the shot.

Want to know more about the ins and outs of portrait photography? Be sure to also read our post on whether people really have a best side in portrait photography. All this knowledge in portrait photography could lead to great gifts for your loved ones. Who wouldn’t want an excellent portrait photograph of themselves or those close to them turned into a canvas print?