Introduction To Portrait Photography
Portrait: A likeness of a person, especially one showing the face, which is created by a painter or photographer. A picture or description, especially of a person. From Old French, of portraire, to portray. American Heritage Dictionary
It really doesn’t matter what photographic discipline you are striving for, commercial, nature, journalism etc. sooner or later you will be making images of people. That’s why every photographer should have a basic understanding of portrait photography.
The techniques of portraiture is not complicated if we condition our minds to the fundamentals of the natural light around us. If we can artificially duplicate the phenomenon of light, as it exists in nature, and if we can simulate what have come to be known as "'available light" conditions, we can produce a wide range of lighting styles which are esthetically appealing.
In applying these artificial methods, we will consider the light of the sun as a directional and highlighting source, one that varies its light pattern upon the subject in relation to its position in the sky and to the subject. Call this bold, strong source the "Key light." The sky is another light source. It produces a soft, even, over-all illumination, which fills the entire picture area with light. Think of the light of the sky as "Fill Light.”
Over a long span of time photographers and artists have developed three major lighting styles' or patterns which are generally suitable for portraiture:
|1. Glamour Lighting|
2. 45-degree Lighting or Rembrandt Lighting
3. Split Lighting
Sounds simple enough, you only have to know three types of lighting patterns and you’re an expert, right? Well, no not really, because there a hundreds of variations of these three patterns. But before we talk about the variations lets understand the basic three patterns.
To help develop your skills in the use of portrait lighting, it is helpful to practice light placement with a manikin-type figure. Through trial and experiment you can perfect your techniques in the various lighting styles. Varying the position of the key light produces interesting light patterns, but this does not mean that the angle and elevation of the light can be varied at random.
But before we can take a look at portrait lighting we need to understand some basic principles of lig