A portrait creates a relationship between two people: subject and viewer. How that relationship unfolds depends on you, the photographer.
Portraits come in various types, ranging from outdoor to indoor locations, to different styles like posed and candid. But all these factors are secondary, what’s most important is capturing the essence of your subject – therein lies the secret to a successful portrait.
Making a Friend
Getting your subject to open up in front of you is the first step; if your subject is tense, the images will turn out awkward. The more comfortable she is in front of your camera, the more genuine the portraits will be. This doesn’t mean that your subject should always be expected to smile – not every good portrait is a smiley one. The more you know about your subject, the more you can honestly capture her personality. Is she an introvert or an extrovert? Quiet or loud? Cheery or serious? Knowing who she is will give you ideas to bring out her best sides. Taking the time to know your subject also requires you to have patience. The patience to recognize that the session starts the moment you meet, not when you pick up your camera, the patience to not start shooting right away, and the patience of knowing that the first few shots might be keepers, or they might just be warm-up.
The Eyes are the Soul
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HWM Megaguide: Digital Photography 3.0