What makes for the perfect portrait?

It’s no secret that I’ve always been fascinated portraits. Give a strong Black & White portrait and I am sold each time. Lately I’ve been wondering what makes for a good portrait?

When I started on this journey, the photographers who’s work inspired me most where Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier Bresson and Robert Frank. Different photographers who’s work I admire greatly.

Ansel adams a landscape photographer who’s work is widely known and in many ways ahead of it’s time.  However, Henri Cartier Bresson whose style of photography has been called Photojournalism. I like to think of his work more on the candid moment side.  Don’t get me wrong, but if you are familiar with his work then you will know exactly what I mean. Robert Frank, what can I say about this man that hasn’t already been said. If you are not familiar with his work, may I suggest you google “The Americans” by Robert Frank?

What attracts me to both Robert Frank’s and Henri Cartier Bresson work is the natural and organic feel to them. None of the subjects are posing and no action is exaggerated.

I’ve taken a few portraits, however there’s always something about them that I don’t really like. Maybe it’s the fact that friends and family gives you their phones or cameras and say “take my picture”. I think we’ve all experienced this. Or it’s simply the fact that I am shy an unable to relate to the subject? When I’m shooting landscape, the feeling I get is very different. I get lost and I concentrate in my work. I walk around and follow the lines in order to find the perfect composition for my images. Maybe it’s the fact there’s no pressure and no expectations. I am still looking for the answer.

So my questions to you all is, What in your opinion makes a great portrait for you?

Have a wonderful day everybody!!!


One Comment Add yours

  1. David Kessel says:

    For me a portrait should tell a story, generate emotion and perhaps provoke thought. They should be intimate and humanise the subject and perhaps make you want to know more about them.

    I have taken quite a number of ‘portraits’ of homeless people mainly in York. I usually talk to them and sit down with them before taking a picture. Hopefully, we are both relaxed by the time a press the shutter release. I want these images to connect with the viewer and make the person ‘visible’ as a human being.

    I also like to shoot musicians in small venues. The intimacy of the performance and the way the player loses themselves in the music. I try to capture the essence of the musician and the passion of the performance rather than just ending with a picture of someone with an instrument. Certainly often not a success and the modern LED lighting doesn’t help at all.

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