The essence of portrait photography is to immortalise the image of a person or of a small group of persons in a positive manner. The photograph always focuses on the person’s face even though the entire body can be displayed. Many people enjoy having professional portraits made at some special occasions like a wedding or a graduation prom; this is why many homes show this kind of pictures hanging on the walls and their owners always have a small story for each of them.
Portrait photography was the first popular picture in the history of camera, family pictures were discovered to date back even more than two hundred years ago. Over time technological advances gave photographs the possibility of catching images that occurred faster than you could see. Like a painting, a photo captures the mood and thoughts that show on the person’s face.
Portrait photography was popularised as a cheaper and faster alternative to portrait paintings, as a person could be represented almost perfectly. In the case of a painting everything was up to the artist’s talent but in the case of photography experience is more important than talent. Back in the 19th century when the exposure time was a problem people used all kinds of light amplification methods in an effort to provide best possible conditions. Thus it was common practice to use several mirrors to reflect the light on the participants.
As photographic methods evolved people started to move over battlefields or across oceans and into the wilderness in an effort to capture unique images. Those were the beginnings of our modern photography, when photographs needed an entire wagon for their equipment and developing tools. When compared to modern solutions those days may seem unimaginable but it is good to know where we started from to appreciate more the devices we have today.
When making a portrait photography in a studio the photographer has full control over the lighting of his / her subjects, and he / she can modify intensity and light direction as suitable. There are several lights in a studio than can be controlled directly: the main light gives the portrait primary focus and it is usually positioned to the left or right of the models under an angle of 45 degrees. A fill light appears in opposition with the main light, at a little distance, but it is of reduced intensity. This lighting item gives the photo depth and helps separate the models from the background. It is on such small details that the the difference between a great picture and a fine one is set.