Portrait Photography


“A good portrait shows more than merely what someone looks like.  It captures an expression, reveals a mood, or tells something about a person.  Props or an environmental setting are not essential, but they can help show what a person does or what kind of person he or she is.” —Barbara London


For your 1st Photographic assignment I would like you to demonstrate your understanding of the steps in taking a photograph by doing the following:


  1. Select a subject for every photograph you take.  Your subject must be an animal or person.  Some possibilities are friends, parents, siblings, strangers, people at work, people at play, pets, wild animals, animals at a zoo, or a combination of the above.  The entire roll can be shot on one subject or a variety of subjects.


  1. Adjust the format of the camera to suit your subject.  To get out of the horizontal mode of taking photographs, I would like you to shoot approximately 10 verticals and 10 horizontals.


  1. Adjust your camera angles to make photographs more dynamic.  Include a combination of bird’s eye views and bug’s eye views.  Whenever possible take the photograph at your subject’s eye level, NOT your eye level


  1. Remember to watch your backgrounds.  Keep the photograph simple and the background free of clutter or objects growing out of your subject’s head.


  1. Get as close to your subject as you can while including elements of the environment necessary to communicate the message of the photograph.  Remember that if you are using a point-and-shoot camera and you are closer than 4 feet to your subject, your photographs will be out of focus and you will need to reshoot the assignment.


  1. The most important thing to remember is pick a subject that interests you.  Have fun.  Shoot with someone else if you want, but don’t take the exact same photograph as your friend.






                 Assignment given:                                      Please refer to

                 Film due:                                                     Blackboard for

                 Contact prints due:                                    all due dates

                 5 Prints due:


People Slide Show | Pets Slide Show | Life Slide Show | Portrait Student Work

Here are examples of renowned photographers who have contrasting styles of expressing an inner vision.

Duane Michals was born in Mckeesport, Pennsylvania into a typical working-class environment: his father was a steel worker and his mother a housekeeper. His interest in art began at age 14, when he began taking Saturday-afternoon watercolor classes at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh.


Gordon Parks is an American renaissance man who has mastered many media to express his uplifting and influential message of hope. Parks was born in 1912 and has overcome adversity, including poverty and racism, to rise to the top of his various professions. He used the portrait to express ideas about the human condition, human rights, poverty and racism.


Scott Goldsmith: A Photojournalist for National Geographic, US News and World Report and many other publications. Movie of him working on a photo shoot at NASH for the 2005 US News College Guide.
DSC_0037girls The Shower: A Photojournal of a special day.
Richard Hurst is a Pittsburgh based photographer who's probing camera reveals his unique insights into the world where humans and animals meet.  Rich's work is represented in many collections and museums including the Museum of Modern art, the The Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Carnegie Museum of Art

“On Set” William Wegman is best known for his photographic series in which he poses Weimaraner dogs in a variety of scenes, situations and costumes that evoke multiple and shifting identities. A pioneer in conceptual art and photography of the 1970s, Wegman’s work also includes videos and paintings characterized by the artist’s dead-pan humor and word play. ART:21 website
Arnold Newman is a renowned portrait photographer emphasizing the "enviornmental portrait" approach.

PDN slideshow

Sterling Lorence Vancouver based action photographer.

After viewing the images of the photographers above, choose one photo and describe:

  • How they composed the picture (through point of view, framing, space, light and focus)
  • Their choice of subject matter and
  • How that contributes to what the picture expresses.

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