What it means to shoot a portrait? A portrait is more than just a close shot of someone. A portrait is your understanding of someone’s else life and personality. And this is why it is so challeging to do a nice portrait.
In my point of view there are two different ways of doing a portrait image. The first is by consciously create a character, develop a ficticious story about him or her and then go for the picture. That is basically what you do in movies and books. It is a deliberately effort to create a fictional someone.
Another way to do, and is probably the hardest, is to actually try to capture the perception of someone else and create an image that is the closest possible to the essence of the person you are shooting. For sure, both are inferences of someone’s else perception of the world, but in one you are the one to create the experiences, the joys, the sufferings that the person has gone through; while on the other you are resposible to try to understand that person as much as you can. I like to use the analogy that the first type of portrait is made by writers, the second is made by researchers (even though I believe that writers and researchers have many things in common).
The greatest thing is that because we are always infering about the person’s life (be it by creating one’s life or by trying to understanding one’s life), a portrait of the same person, with the same clothes, same background, and same equipment will never be the same. That happens because each photographer has his or her own way to see the world, and thus of “portraiting” someone.
This idea was greatly capture in the short video (below) made by Canon. Watch it and take your own conclusions about this interesting “experiment”.
I hope you like it.
Until next time!