6 Types of Portraits

There are several distinct types of portrait photographs you can create. Knowing these gives you a better understanding of how to approach a portrait shot and get the result you desire.

Here are 6 of the most common kinds of portraits you can photograph. The images are numbered accordingly:

1. Traditional

This is the most common type of portrait work. It’s created against a backdrop, and the subject generally looks directly at the camera. This style of work is most often used for business portraits, school pictures, church directories, baby pictures, and family portraits.

2. Lifestyle

Lifestyle portraits have become very popular in the last few decades. This type of work portrays the subject in a living situation. The key is to show the subject(s) enjoying their life. The activity is as important as the faces and the expressions. This style is often used in weddings, family portraits, engagement portraits, glamour work, and editorial photography.

3. Environmental

An environmental portrait is similar to a lifestyle portrait. The term environmental portrait is used primarily to describe work created for the editorial or business markets rather than families or weddings. An environmental portrait gives the viewer a sense of the person, their place, and how the two relate to each other.

4. Candid

Candid portraits are done on the fly without a lot of set-up. Sometimes the subject of the candid portrait isn’t even aware that the photographer is taking their photograph. One of the most difficult aspects to candid portraits is achieving a natural look when working with a subject. Almost any type of photography assignment can require candid portraits – weddings, families, children, or editorial work.

5. Glamour

This type of work requires all the skills previously discussed plus additional skills in the application of makeup and the styling of hair. Special attention must be placed on the selection of clothing, props, and posing.

6. Experimental and Abstract

Portraits in this genre are typically created for artistic purposes only and are often used as an interpretive view of the subject’s subconscious thoughts.