Silverstrand Photography Blog

Local photography company in Saratoga Springs, UT. Families, corporate, sports.

Tuesday’s Tips and Tricks | Types of Portraits

There are basically two types of portraits: the environmental portrait and the cosmetic portrait.

Environmental Portraits

Environmental Portraits are about the sitter as well as the world around them.  The picture ends up telling the viewer a little about the sitter’s interest, tastes, or lifestyle.  Wide Angle works great for this type of portrait.  That way you can get a lot of the surrounding area in the shot.  Be sure to be careful where you pose your sitter.  Make sure their head is clear of anything around it.  You don’t want them to end up with horns or appendages coming out of their head.

Example of an Environmental Portrait:

Example of what you DON’T want: (pole coming out of head)

Cosmetic Portraits

Cosmetic portrait is intended to show the model in a flattering fashion.  This type of portrait is more familiar to most.  The model is the main subject, and not much else is in the shot.

Example of a Cosmetic Portrait:  Same model… but now a Cosmetic shot.


A few Tips for Cosmetic Portraits (found in K-I-S-S Guide to Photography):

  • As a general Focus on the eyes.  They are, after all, the windows to the soul
  • If subject has blotchy skin or acne, try holding red filter in front of the lens, or in front of the flash
  • Try taking portraits by candlelight.
  • Generally, the longer the lens the more flattering a close-up portrait becomes.
  • Never push a wide-angle lens too close to a face (unless you don’t like the person!)  since you will get an elongated head and a long nose.
  • For bags under the eyes or dark eye sockets, place a silver reflector on the table, like aluminum foil, and have them lean over it.  The silver reflector bounces light back up and fills in the dark eye sockets, removing much of the baggy look.  It also puts a bright highlight in the eye, which gives the sitter a bit of a twinkle. 🙂
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